How to Manage Painful Bunions

Bunions can be painful conditions to deal with and tend to progress with time and activity. It is important to treat them to prevent them worsening in both size and pain. Here is some useful information to help prevent your bunions from getting worse:

Gait & Shoe Assessment

It is first necessary to identify what type of foot you have, and whether you’re wearing shoes that exacerbate the problem. Foot types that are excessively flexible and that roll in tend to be more prone to bunions. As we pronate further towards the inside of our foot we firstly increase the loading on the joint of the big toe, as well as the toe itself. This movement also tends to ‘jam’ up the joint, adding more stress to the joint from the side.

This is made more difficult again by wearing flexible shoes without support. They can exaggerate the problem further by allowing or even encouraging your foot to roll in further especially if they have worn on the inside.

Muscle Tightness

When the muscles that connect to our big toe tighten (which occurs when they’re working too hard) they pull harder on the toe. This additionally restricts the movement of the toe as the muscles reduce it’s range of movement. Calf tightness also contributes as it forces our heel to lift early when we walk. This moves the pressure more rapidly to the ball of our foot, increasing the work of the big toe joint again.

So What Can I Do?

The two initial changes involve stretching the tight muscles of your foot and calf, and replace your footwear if they have insufficient support. One of the best exercises you can do is to roll out the arch of your foot using a cricket or golf ball. Spending 5 minutes once or twice a day, with focus on the muscles around the big toe, can reduce some of the tension around the joint and allow it to move more freely. Stretching the calves morning and night also helps to reduce the loading of the foot as much during each step.

Looking at shoes that reduce how much your foot rolls is also important. But wearing them is even more so! If you are walking around at home barefoot for hours each day then you may need to find a pair that works around the house. If new shoes and stretches aren’t helping then the next step is to visit a podiatrist. They can help to assess the cause of the bunions and support your feet further as needed.

Call our clinic on (07) 3823 5423 to see one of our podiatrists.