Bunions – Oh, My Aching Feet!?
By Dr. Tim Fargo, chiropractor
A bunion is a bony bump located on the joint at the base of your big toe. When a bunion occurs, the big toe is pulled inward toward the other toes and leaves a large bony bump behind.
It is tempting to simply say that all bunions are the result of ill-fitting shoes, but footwear is only one piece of the puzzle. Certainly, it is fair to say that tightly fitting shoes are a contributor to bunion formation. However, there are people who never wear such shoes, yet still develop bunions. This condition is often accompanied by swelling, redness, and soreness around the big toe joint. You can also have ongoing pain and limited movement of the big toe. Bunions can sometimes become so significant that it’s difficult to find shoes that fit.
Some of the factors that predispose people to bunion formation are foot injury and stress, inherited foot type, and deformities at birth. Yes, if one of your parents has bunions, then you have a greater chance of developing them too.
While there is no easy fix, and surgery for bunion correction is not easy, there are things that can be done to both alleviate the discomfort associated with bunions and prevent their progression. What must be understood is that, like all parts of the body, the foot works as a synchronous unit, and we cannot simply look at a big toe and formulate solutions for it without encompassing foot function as a whole.
What happens when you walk is that as you move into the stance phase, when your foot is flat on the ground and you’re bearing your full weight on it, the ankle bone rolls in, the arch flattens a bit, and the forefoot spreads. This is a natural biomechanical process. Unfortunately, people who are carrying too much weight, consistently walking and standing on hard surfaces, and have unsupportive footwear will often exaggerate and make this phenomenon chronic. Without proper arch support, the arch drops, the ankle rolls in, the forefoot spreads, and, naturally, the big toe is pushed inward by an unyielding shoe. This process, when it persists over the course of years can cause or significantly accelerate bunion formation. In addition to bunions, these circumstances will also cause inflammation of the tissue on the bottom of the foot (plantar fasciitis), heel pain/ heel spurs, and numbness of the toes.
The solution is to make sure that you have shoes that are both supportive under the arch and wide enough in the toe box to allow your foot to splay in its natural way. In addition, the circumstances described above cause misalignments of the bones of the foot and ankle. The doctors at Chiropractic Health and Wellness are trained to assess foot function and alignment and do corrective adjustments that can help improve foot function and alleviate pain. If you, or a member of your family, suffer with bunions and foot pain, please do not hesitate to consult one of our doctors.