August 23rd, 2011 10:51am - Posted By: Kara
Ever look at someone’s foot – or even your own foot—and wonder what that protrusion is pushing out below your big toe? What is that bump? Well, what you are viewing is the third most common foot ailment – a bunion.
It's a bit confusing, but the word bunion actually refers to three different medical conditions: soft tissue enlargement, hallux abducto valgus (HAV) and metatarsus primus varus (MPV). All three of these problems generally occur together and are what most people think of as a typical "bunion."
HAV is a fancy way of saying that your big toe (hallux) is rotated and leaning toward your other toes. Sometimes the deformity becomes really severe and the big toe can either sit on top or underneath your second toe. The other condition, MPV, involves the first metatarsal becoming rotated and leaning too far toward your other foot. The hard bone you feel when you touch the bunion (the side of your big toe joint) is the head of the first metatarsal that has shifted out of position.
Bunions are usually termed mild, moderate or severe. Just because you have a bunion does not necessarily equal pain. There are some people with very severe bunions and no pain and people with mild bunions and a lot of pain.
Bunions are much more common in women than in men, mainly because we women will sacrifice sensibility for sexy – which means poor fitting shoes. Daily at The Good Sole we have ladies calling their bunions “onions” because they are so huge.
In countries where people do not wear shoes there are not as many bunions, but bunions are still found in some non-shoe wearing people. Here in the USA there are a greater number of people who have bunions, however, there are factors other than shoes that contribute to bunions.
Heredity plays a part. You do not inherit the bunions, but you inherit the foot type that may lead to bunions. Certain foot types cause the bones to change position and go out of alignment.
So – next time you are around your grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers – take a look.
Possible causes of bunions:
• Shoes (especially high-heeled shoes)
• Flat feet (pes planus) and pronation (foot rolls in)
• Amputation of the second toe
• Neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy, rheumatoid arthritis, poliomyelitis.
• Shortening of the achilles tendon
• Ruptured posterior tibialis tendon
Non-surgical treatment will not make the bunion go away, but it will hopefully decrease the signs and symptoms you have and help you get rid of the pain. There are various bunion regulators and other devices that may help.
At The Good Sole, we have had several patients including ourselves (yes, several of us do have bunions) who use toe socks to help keep the bunion from getting bigger. Lately, more bunion folks have been wearing Vibram Five Fingers ( yes- the funny toe shoes) to help and so far the reports have been good.
Some other solutions to help with bunions are:
• Wider shoes
• Extra depth shoes
• Stretch shoes (Don at The Good Sole is the best bunion buster this side of the Mississippi and can get most shoes to accommodate bunions)
• Padding, splints, toe spacers
• NSAIDs (Aleve, Advil, ibuprofen, etc.)
• Arch supports
Foot exercises and toe stretches can also help to keep the foot mobile, maintain flexibility, and strengthen muscles.
• Toe stretches. Stretching out your toes can help keep them limber and offset foot pain. To stretch your toes, point your toes straight ahead for 5 seconds and then curl them under for 5 seconds. Repeat these stretches 10 times. These exercises can be especially beneficial if you also have hammertoes.
• Toe flexing and contracting. Pressing your toes against a hard surface such as a wall, to flex and stretch them; hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat three to four times. Then flex your toes in the opposite direction; hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat three to four times.
• Stretching your big toe. Using your fingers to gently pull your big toe over into proper alignment can be helpful as well. Hold your toe in position for 10 seconds and repeat three to four times.
• Ball roll. To massage the bottom of your foot, sit down, place a golf ball or a Foot Rubz on the floor under your foot, and roll it around under your foot for two minutes. This can help relieve foot strain and cramping.
• Towel curls. You can strengthen your toes by spreading out a small towel on the floor, curling your toes around it, and pulling it toward you. Repeat five times. Gripping objects with your toes like this can help keep your foot flexible.
• Picking up marbles. Place around 20 marbles on the floor in front of you and use your foot to pick the marbles up one by one and place them in a bowl.
If you have questions about your bunion, you should always consult your podiatrist. But feel free to stop by The Good Sole and we can visit with you about some of the above options to help your bunion not become an onion!