What is a Bunion?
A Bunion is an abnormal swollen bump on the joint at the base of the big toe.
Do Bunions cause joint deformities in other parts of the body?
Bunions are generally considered to be a cosmetic problem. They don’t look pretty and can become very painful. They are however more than just a cosmetic problem. They can become a major medical problem for several reasons.
The main problem is:
Having a distorted big toe joint along with this joint becoming rigid in its range of motion changes how a foot pivots through propulsion. When a foot can no longer pivot at this joint it reduces knee and hip flexion causing stress on these joints.
A bunion deformity can also change the alignment of the knee and hip causing excessive internal or external knee rotation leading to scoliosis of the spine.
Other problems that a bunion can cause:
- Cosmetic appearance of the feet
- Feet don’t fit into shoes anymore
- Infections of the joint
Bunions cause disfigurement of the feet and can become quite ugly in their appearance.
Infections/Ulcers on the joint:
The skin overlying the bunion can become very fragile skin due to the constant pressure and irritation which can lead to very painful ulcers in the area.
Due to poor blood supply to this part of your foot these ulcers can become very hard to heal and can ultimately lead to amputation of the toe or foot.
Understanding the mechanical work of a big toe joint and how it affects how you walk:
Your big toe joint is your pivot point. Without propulsion through this joint, you will inevitably damage other joints of your foot as they compensate. You can also damage the alignment of your knees, hips and spine.
Due to the lack of movement at this joint, the toes don’t always clear the ground, increasing the risk of tripping on your own toes and falling.
What causes a bunion to develop?
Development of a bunion is thought to be genetically inherited and exacerbated by a number of factors:
- Poor fitting footwear
- Tight high heeled shoes
- Sports related activities (eg; Ballet)
- The amount of time spent on your feet
- Flat feet (Poor Biomechanics)
What can be done to help prevent your Bunion from progressively getting worse?
It is extremely important to treat your bunion early in life in an attempt to reduce other biomechanical/alignment deformities in the lower limbs and spine. We cannot stop your bunion from progressivly getting worse but believe we can slow the progression of the deformity.
We would offer footwear advice. We are mindful that some of you will not give up your high heeled shoes but can give advice on shoes that can be worn for other hours of the day.
Orthotic treatment is a very important part of redistributing pressure away from the bunion. Orthotics are arch supports that work by taking the pressure off the big toe joint and redistributing the weight more evenly through the mid and rear foot.
Surgery is another option but conservative management should be tried first.
Narelle at the Kew Foot Clinic has treated patients for over 20 years and has had alleviated so many patients needing to have bunion surgery.
Book an appointment today to see how Narelle can help you.
Kew Foot Clinic T: 03 9853 6877
66 Harp Road Kew 3101