Understanding Bunions

Bunions are a kind of bone deformity where an often painful growth forms at the big toe joint, causing the big toe to be angled inwards instead of straight.

Bunions affect women and men in a 3:1 ratio. Severe bunions are as seen below, where the angle of the big toe has shifted dramatically and impairs its ability to function as the “foundation” of the foot. 

Eventually, when the bunion makes the foot too unstable and the big toe starts to become unable to do its job properly, the second toe must compensate and start carrying the burden of supporting the body as it moves around. However, the second toe is not designed for this – it’s made up of very slim bones, and the constant pressure soon causes a corn or hard skin to form underneath it, while also causing foot pain and permanently damaging the joint.

Severe bunions impair walking and wearing shoes. | Family Podiatry Centre | Best Foot Doctor Podiatrist DPM Clinic Singapore Malaysia

What causes Bunions?

While the big toe is vital to how we walk today, the anatomy of the foot leaves itself vulnerable to a range of problems that can crop up without careful maintenance and care. Causes of bunions include:

  •  Improper gait which predisposes to bunions
    •  Several muscles insert into the big toe at an oblique angle, and each of them exerts a force onto the big toe that could pull it into a bunion just by walking
  • Hypermobile toe joints
  • Foot deformities e.g flat feet
  • Genetic predisposition
    • As foot deformities or other factors which predispose someone to developing bunions can be inherited, bunions are often genetic in nature.
    • There factors can be more easily observed in early childhood.


Best Bunions Treatment

Conservative Treatments for Bunions

Conservative bunion treatment cannot straighten the toe completely, which means that it isn’t a permanent solution especially for severe cases, but it can relieve the pain and reduce the bunion angle by a few degrees. Such treatments include:

  • Exercising discipline with shoe choices in order to gradually correct the bunion angle over time
  • Extracorporeal shock wave threapy (ESWT)
    • Helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing

Happily, less severe cases should be able to restore normal foot function and eventually reinstate the big toe as the main weight-bearer, with time and discipline.

Surgical Treatment for Bunions

Severe cases may require further intervention. There are a few procedures available which realign the bone and joint and release the muscles’ pulling action which caused the bunion in the first place. However, these procedures may require a long recovery period, and due to the nature of bunions being caused by anatomical flaws, they may not always result in a perfectly realigned foot.

Unfortunately, victims need to accept that bunions will always require long-term care, regardless of what treatment they decide to undergo for them. Constant discipline in making sure you treat your feet well is vital to keeping them nice and straight, and not oddly curved! Book a consultation with us today to start figuring out your treatment plan early.

Written by Mark B. Reyneker
Written by Mark B. Reyneker

Based in Singapore, 20 years of clinical experience. Practiced in South Africa, Malaysia, and Singapore. Pioneered CAD/CAM custom-made orthotics in S.E Asia.

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