Bunions used to be something associated with Grandmas who had old, bony bodies, including misshapen feet. Then they just became associate with people who had bad feet they didn’t take care of properly. The truth? Bunions are nothing more than a misaligned toe.
Also known as “Hallux Valgus,” bunions are a simple deformity of the big toe, more specifically of the MTP joint (or metatarsophalangeal joint). This is where the bones that form the toe, called the phalanx bones, meet the bone of the foot, the metatarsal bone. The MTP joint starts to swell and stick out, forcing the big toe to point toward the other toes. This sometimes causes it to move on top of the next one as if the toes are being squished together, even when you are barefoot. Experts understand that bunions have a specific set of causes. Some of the main reasons behind the development of bunions are:
Bad footwear: wearing tight, ill-fitting shoes is one of the most common factors in the appearance of bunions, as they force the feet and its toes into unnatural positions, which end up deforming the foot. High heels are one of the best examples, and also one of the reasons why bunions are more frequent in women than in men.
Genetics: some inherited foot types are just more prone to developing bunions than others. While not necessarily genetic, some deformities at birth can also be linked to a later case of bunions.
Injuries: anyone who sustains severe injuries to their feet could be facing this scenario, as a damaged joint or a broken bone may not heal properly and create the conditions for the later appearance of bunions.
Diseases: people with arthritis (and, more specifically, rheumatoid arthritis) have a higher risk of developing this and other types of foot deformities, due to the weakness created in the joints by this condition.
If left untreated or neglected, bunions can become painful and affect your everyday life. Even worse, they can help develop other foot conditions like bursitis. Bursitis occurs when the are in your joint that holds fluid to protect your joints starts to swell. This creates metatarsalgia, which is pain and inflammation on the ball of your foot. To older, more fragile people, it can also mean less ankle and rear foot motion, as well as loss of balance which, as we all know, creates a higher risk of falling. The thing about bunions is that they grow over time. If they are not treated, they will continue to get worse.
Bunions develop slowly, over time. If you are already struggling with bunions, there are still a few things you can do to handle them:
Ice: cold is one of the most common and simple tricks to relieve pain and swelling, and it also works on bunions. We should, however, advise you to avoid applying ice for more than 20 minutes, as it could cause ice burn.
Supports: orthotics can also help you deal with bunions. There are pads that cushion the bunions and the area around it. Taping, which should be done by a therapist or a professional, is an option. And over the counter arch supports are also useful. JUst be sure in any of these cases, to use support that correctly fits your foot.
Choosing the right footwear: we can’t stress enough how important it is to wear shoes that fit you without having to force your feet into them. In this case, you should look for shoes with a wider toe box and more room for your toes. It’s especially important to avoid pointy shoes.
Exercises: while there isn’t any real evidence that exercising your feet can do something about bunions, it’s always good to have strong feet and to keep your joints flexible. Placing small towels or elastic bands between your toes and pulling, stretching and flexing your toes repeatedly, or using small rubber balls (or tennis balls) to exercise both the arch and the joints of the toes are great stretches and exercises.
Surgery: this is a “worst case scenario” for most people. However, if bunions run in the family, you’ll have a pretty good idea what you’re in store for and can plan on surgery earlier rather than later. Because bunions only ever progressively get worse, there does come a time when surgery just isn’t an option anymore. If you aren’t sure, then a chat with your podiatrist will help keep you informed of your options and timing. In general, if the pain gets too strong and the bunion starts to affect your everyday life, you might have to consider give serious consideration to surgery to correct the malformation and improve your quality of life.
Life with bunions can be tough. They can make it difficult to shop for shoes. Exercise and activity can become more and more painful. Plus, there’s stigma around bunions. Many think they are a result of poor foot care or that people with bunions shouldn’t wear sandals because they are too unsightly. As long as you care for your feet and keep them healthy with regular grooming and quality shoes and support, there’s no reason to avoid sandals. And surgery is a personal choice. When it comes to personal care and grooming, we can at least suggestFOOT SENSE all-natural skin therapy cream, which hydrates, softens, repairs, and protects dry, cracked skin. The skin around a bunion can becomes irritated and sore. Plus it can dry out more than other areas. This is because it will rub the inside of your shoes more than other areas because shoes aren’t made for people with bunions. By keeping your feet clean and adding this all-natural moisture solution, you’ll care for your sore spots and minimize unnecessary pain.