Hello, and welcome to this episode in our series on sports podiatry. Today we’re discussing a common condition that occurs in the big toe known as bunions.
Bunions are a fairly common condition that occurs in the fist metatarsal phalangeal joint. The bunion itself is the bump that grows on the side of the big toe, or it’s hallux abducto valgus, which is the actual proper deformity. It’s where the metatarsal angles away from the foot and then the phalanxes of the toe angle back towards the lesser toes. You can also get a bunion in the fifth metatarsal phalangeal joint and this is known as a bunionette.
Signs and symptoms of bunions usually involve redness around the outside of the big toe, where the bunion is, the change in structure of the
forefoot, which is the big toe deviating towards the smaller toes, which can make fitting footwear quite difficult because it broadens the forefoot. And also pain can be a very common occurrence, but also bunions can occur without pain as well. Another common thing that occurs with bunions is corns and hard skin forming around the deformity and also around underneath the smaller toes.
Currently there is no general consensus on the cause of bunions, but there are some theories that have been developed. These include narrow fitting footwear that have damaged the foot over time, genetics so pick the bunions up from your parents or inheriting it from them, and also the foot type that somebody has, so having a flat foot can be a predisposing factor.
Bunions are problem because they can change the structure of the forefoot by make the width of the forefoot much greater. By doing this it develop lesions on the outside of the toes, mainly the fifth toe or the last toe, and also the big toe. Secondary conditions or issues that can develop from bunions are osteoarthritis, which is the main one, and this can lead to restriction in the big toe, which can effect and put pressure on the lesser toes. Another thing that can be really really effected is the length of the big toe, so the length of the big toe becomes shorter, which then places more pressure on the lesser toes. And this can also effect the efficiency of the gait so you’re not able to activate your big toe as well, which means during exercise and sport, it can be very restricting.
Treatment of bunions usually involves the restoration of function in the foot, and this is done with conservative therapies, such as stretching and strengthening, and the issuing of specific footwear to accommodate the broader forefoot. The footwear aims at trying to take pressure away from the outside of the foot to prevent corns and callus from developing. The next phase of treatment usually involved orthotic therapy. Orthotics aim at restoring function in the big toe to try and get you to use the toe a little bit more and to also take pressure and stress off the lesser toes, or the smaller toes. If all of these treatments fail and their condition is too advanced, surgery may be the only option.
If bunions go untreated, they can develop into much greater issues and lead into many more conditions developing in the feet. So it is important to get them treated sooner rather than later. The information in this video is general and if you do have any signs and symptoms or issues in your feet, it is advised that you seek a professional opinion. If you’d like to book and appointment with one of our podiatrists, you can book in online at our website.