A bunion is a deviation of the big toe joint towards the middle of the foot. In many cases, if treatment is put off, a bony growth may develop at the bunion causing a bump or an enlargement on the side and over the top of the big toe joint, which may cause foot and ankle pain. Given that there is a misalignment within the joint, bunions are usually but not always painful, and generally result in osteoarthritis within the big toe joint. Bunions are commonly associated with irritation in footwear, and are often a source of embarrassment due to the changed appearance of a sufferer’s feet.
How many people get bunions?
Research shows that bunions are extremely prevalent in Australia, affecting ⅓ of the population. Over the age of 60, it’s suggested to be as high as 70%. When left untreated bunions can also be linked to other risks and complications.
What Causes Bunions & Bunion Pain?
Bunions are caused primarily by the way that someone walks and stands. Foot mobilisation is the technique we use at our podiatry clinic, and through this method we mobilize the joint and then strengthen the muscles around that joint to reinforce that positive position.
Symptoms of a Bunion
Bunions tend to lead to pain and soreness at the big toe joint, the 1st MTPJ. Though persistent pain is one of the most common signs that a bunion requires treatment, pain itself isn’t always the best guide on what is happening with your bunion. In fact, a bunion can be 90% advanced before a person even feels any pain or discomfort at all. But as the condition progresses, the pain is often indicative of a more advanced issue. If a bunion is especially sore it may mean there is degenerative change or osteoarthritis.
Soft tissue swelling is common in and around the 1st MTPJ as the joint begins to protrude outward. The skin becomes inflamed and red, and the inflammation may persist for prolonged periods of time if the bunion goes untreated.
When the big toe joint becomes misaligned, a noticeable bony lump will often form on the outside of the toe. The bony lump causes a more noticeably defined bump on the outside of the toe joint, and this is typically a sign of a more advanced condition.
As the joint becomes mispositioned, you might also experience a loss of mobility in the affected toe. The loss of mobility could also be the result of persistent pain or pressure from swelling. It may also indicate degenerative change or even osteoarthritis through the joint.
The exercises target some of the larger muscles of the foot which, when strengthened, help to support the affected toe and surrounding tissues. This allows the area to heal and realign naturally, with long term results.
In both foot mobilisation therapy and home treatment plans, exercises might include: