Orthotic treatment for bunions
Bunions are a common foot problem that our podiatrists treat at our Melbourne clinic. Conservative treatment usually involves addressing causative factors and this mostly involves orthotics. Bunions that are severe or causing issues despite conservative treatment require surgical correction.
What is a bunion?
A bunion or hallux valgus is a bony deformity affecting the big toe, causing deviation of the big toe towards the second toe. The first metatarsal joint partially dislocates and often there is a noticeable enlargement or bony prominence around the joint. A poor functioning bunion joint can lead to arthritic changes within the joint.
What causes a bunion?
Bunions are multifactorial and have a number of casues. Everyone knows that tight footwear or pointy-toe shoes are a cause, hence why bunions are more prevalent in females. But did you know one of the major causes of bunions is poor foot structure and function?
What foot types are prone to bunions?
There are certain foot types and gaits that are more likely than others to develop bunions. These include:
- Flexible feet with loose ligaments
- Feet with a short first metatarsal
- Gait where the foot excessively pronates
- Gait that is excessively abducted or out-toed
Can children develop bunions?
Yes. Bunion deformities in children are known as juvenile bunions. Our podiatrists treat a number of children and teenagers each year that present to our Melbourne clinic with bunion deformities. The key to treatment is early intervention with orthotics.
You should get your child’s feet and gait checked if there is a history of bunions in the family, if they are getting pain, or if you notice the big toe is out of alignment and not straight. It is also a good idea to get your child’s feet checked by a podiatrist even if the big toe is straight if you notice they have a foot type or gait prone to bunion development as described above.
How can orthotics help treat bunions?
Orthotics can help slow down the progression of a bunion deformity. One of the main causes of bunions is when the foot rolls off the side of the big toe during propulsion. This is common in feet that excessively pronate or roll in. The ground reaction forces push the big toe more towards the second toe and over time this will result in subluxation of the joint and development of bunion.
Orthotics work by improving foot function and gait alignment. Orthotics if designed right by a podiatrist can help your big toe push off straight thereby removing the harmful ground reaction forces pushing the toe sideways. This can help slow down bunion progression. Orthotics also improve function of the first MPJ joint and this can reduce symptoms as well as slowing down any arthritic changes in the joint.