A bunion refers to a bump or enlarged thickening located on the large joint of your big toe. Bunions are a common foot problem affecting more women than men and can develop at an early age or later in life.
Depending on how they develop some bunions may not be painful. They usually grow in size and progressively get worse causing pressure between the smaller toes often causing the toes to deform and cross over one another.
Although we are sometimes more concerned about the unpleasant appearance and not being able to wear certain shoes they can cause more serious issues if left untreated. If painful and left untreated, bunions can lead to decreased activity and result in painful complications such as hammertoes, corns and sores that could become infected.
Although ill fitting shoes such as high pointed heels can be a major contributing factor to the cause and irritation, most bunions are caused by your genetics, faulty foot mechanics (flat feet or feet that roll inwards), Arthritis or trauma.
If you have developed a bunion that is causing you pain and affecting your daily life there are many options that should be explored before thinking about surgery. Some non-invasive treatments and products include wearing well-fitting and appropriate footwear, custom or over-the-counter foot orthotics, custom or gel toe spacers/separators and shoe modifications.
When shopping for shoes get professionally fitted and measured to find shoes that are comfortable and wide enough to provide ample toe room. Modifications can be made to your shoes to reduce pressure on the bunion and accommodate the bump, such as spot stretching and rocker soles to limit excessive movement through your big toe joint.
Foot orthotics can be specifically designed to discreetly fit into your shoes to help reduce pressure on the bunion and address faulty foot mechanics. Toe spacers and separators can help align the toes and prevent irritation between them. Following a full biomechanical lower limb and gait assessment a Canadian Certified Pedorthist can recommend an appropriate bunion treatment program that meets your life style and activity level. This should reduce your pain while maintaining your activity level and ultimately avoid having a surgery.