The term bunion refers to a swelling on the side of the big toe joint, a condition which occurs when the big toe leans too much into the second toe.
Not all bunions are painful and some people can have large bunions without experiencing significant pain. However, the deviating big toe can cause pressure on the second toe, resulting in the second toe becoming a ‘hammer toe’. In some cases, the first two toes will cross over, making it hard to walk. Pain may be caused from wearing tight shoes, particularly high heels; arthritis, and muscle imbalance.
Treatment depends on the severity and size of the bunion:
- In some cases comfortable, well fitted shoes are sufficient to reduce any pain
- Podiatrists can also prescribe an orthotic, which is a device inserted into the shoe to prevent the condition from worsening
- Biomechanics - a means of improving foot and ankle posture – can be effective
- Surgery is not a necessity; half of sufferers never require it. Often treatment from podiatrists and physiotherapists is sufficient to combat the problem
Conservative: Patients with bunions often benefit from a biomechanical assessment. Shoes are often recommended and inefficiencies are treated with orthotics and therapy. Therapy is aimed at muscle lengthening techniques and muscle strengthening exercises for muscles that are underactive or weak.
Post Surgery: If a patient chooses to have surgical removal then physiotherapy post surgery can help to speed up the recovery process. Treatment will help to reduce pain using and get the patient mobilising early. Proprioceptive exercises and advice will be given to aid optimum outcome.