Left untreated, foot conditions can cause significant pain, discomfort and limit mobility. Our practitioners are able to manage your foot and leg complaints with expertise. We are your trusted Podiatrist in Canberra. For further information or to make an appointment with one of our podiatrists, just call our clinic today.
What are bunions?
Bunions, otherwise known as hallux abducto-valgus, are a common bony deformity of the foot where the big toe deviates towards the lesser toes. It is often associated with a bump on the inside of the foot as part of the big toe joint. There are varying degrees of deformity with bunions, ranging from mild to severe. In severe cases, over load to the forefoot can lead to subluxation (dislocation) of the 2nd metatarsophalangeal joint and an associated lifting of the 2nd toe. This can cause a problem with fitting footwear comfortably, as the 2nd toe rubs on the shoes, which can develop into corns or other pressure lesions. Bunions are a progressive disorder; they tend to get worse with time. Generally, a leaning of the big toe towards the 2nd is the first sign noticed. Gradually this deviation becomes greater, the foot wider, and the smaller toes become progressively deformed. Over time finding comfortable shoes becomes more difficult and the big toe joint may persistently ache.
What causes bunions?
Bunions are contributed to by many factors, some of which we have control over and others which are largely genetic. The shape of our joints, the level of mobility of the foot joints, the way our feet move and the mechanics of our feet and legs are all contributing factors. There is some research to suggest that poorly fitted footwear and specifically footwear that is too narrow in the toe box can exacerbate the progression of bunions. It is not actually the bunion itself that is genetic or inherited, but rather the predisposing foot mechanics that tend to be familial.
What common symptoms associated with bunions?
Symptoms of bunions include pain or soreness, inflammation, redness at the joint, a burning sensation and possible numbness. Symptoms are often exacerbated by wearing unsuitable footwear, and so footwear alteration or recommendation often forms the basis for conservative management of bunions.
How are bunions diagnosed?
Diagnosis of bunions is largely made by clinical observation and often an x-ray or other imaging is unnecessary unless you are considering surgical intervention. When surgery is being considered, your foot and ankle surgeon will use x-rays to visualise the bones and possibly grade the deformity.
How are bunions treated?
Before considering surgery, pain from bunions may be improved with conservative therapies which your podiatrist can discuss with you.
Therapies they may consider with you include:
- Footwear modification
- Biomechanical assessment
- Gait retraining or exercise programs
- Offloading padding
- Custom prescription orthoses
- Mobilisation techniques
- Medications for inflammation
- Ice therapy
- Therapeutic injections
Quite often biomechanical assessment and treatment (looking at and altering the way the foot interacts with the ground and your body) and footwear advice with or without custom prescription orthoses can help to reduce the pain associated with bunions. These work to reduce stress through the tissues in the big toe joint by changing the way the foot manages force when it is in contact with the ground. Footwear changes or custom prescription orthoses are aiming to deflect the force away from the injured tissue, giving it a chance to heal and decreasing the likelihood of further tissue injury.
When should surgery be considered?
In severe cases or cases that do not respond adequately to conservative therapies and where pain persists and interferes with daily living, surgical intervention may be the best option. In which case, a podiatric surgeon comes highly recommended. Podiatric surgeons are podiatrists who have undergone rigorous post graduate training including a registrar process and are a fellow of the Australasian College of Podiatric Surgeons. This training and experience qualifies podiatric surgeons to perform foot and ankle surgery, including bunion surgery.
There are a few approaches to bunion surgery and your surgeon will complete a thorough examination and take a thorough medical and surgical history from you during your initial consultation with them. This will enable them to determine the best option for you, your bunion and your medical situation. Usually the surgery is a day procedure, and recovery varies depending on your situation and the procedure type.
So if you think you have a bunion that is bothering you with rubbing or aching when you wear shoes, or aching and pain in the joint and surrounding tissue, book an appointment at ACT Podiatry to have your footwear and feet assessed. We will be able to give you good advice about footwear and custom prescription foot orthoses, or refer you to our podiatric surgeon, Dr Clayton Clews, if a surgical assessment is appropriate.
foot and ankle conditions
- Hallux Valgus (Bunions – progressive dislocation of the big toe joint)
- Hallux Rigidus (Osteoarthritis of the big toe joint)
- Hammer/Claw Toes
- Plantar Forefoot Pain
- Heel Pain (including plantar fasciitis/plantar fasciopathy)
- Bumps and Lumps (bony and soft tissue)
- Arthritis (forefoot, midfoot, rearfoot and ankle)
- Complex foot and ankle complaints (patients with multiple concerns)
- Ingrown Toenail Surgery
- Something Unusual
- What are Podiatrists & Podiatric Surgeons?
- What is the point of difference between
ACT Podiatry and other practices?
- What are common forefoot conditions
treated at ACT Podiatry?
- What are common mid-foot and rear foot
conditions seen at ACT Podiatry?
- What predisposes a person
to lower limb pain
- What are foot orthoses?
- Can a spinal condition cause foot pain?
- Is arterial disease a cause of foot pain?
- I am diabetic and my feet burn
– what is this?
- Can in-growing toe nails and plantar warts be cured?