A bunion is a change to the shape of the big toe joint where the toe drifts sideways often taking the space of the next toe. The medical name for bunions is Hallux Valgus.
Due to changes in the joint and surrounding soft tissues this deformity cannot be permanently corrected without surgery.
Image credit: Lamiot, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
How to treat a bunion
None of these treatments will cure a bunion but they are likely to reduce secondary problems such as pain, crowding of your toes, further deformity or breakdown of your skin due to shoe pressure.
If you have persistent redness, heat, pain and swelling that cannot be explained by increased activity or rubbing from footwear please seek medical advice.
The most important change you can make is to wear shoes that fit well.
- Avoid high-heeled, narrowed or pointed shoes and make sure there are no seams to rub your toes.
- Wearing wide-fitting shoes with fastenings, such as laces or adjustable straps, are best.
- Ensure shoes are measured on the widest part of your foot (across the bunion).
If you can easily straighten your big toe without causing pain you will most likely benefit from a silicone or gel toe spacer.
If you choose to use a spacer, build up the use gradually over a week and stop using it if you have new pain.
Where you cannot straighten your big toe joint bunion protectors maybe more suitable. Whilst not corrective, they can manage pain associated with pressure created by footwear. This is especially helpful if having to use protective work footwear.
Please note that if you have poor circulation you should check with a Podiatrist before using a bunion protector, and they should not be worn for periods longer than 20 minutes.
If your feet roll inwards insoles may be helpful to support your foot. Your podiatrist may recommend or provide you with insoles. You should always build up the use of new insoles gradually over a week and stop using them if you have any new pain.
If you are overweight it is really important to reduce your weight to a healthy level. This will reduce the amount of pressure on your feet thereby reducing pain and further deformity.
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If you have a problem which does not improve as you would expect with self-care, you should contact a healthcare professional for advice. This may be your GP, Pharmacist, NHS Podiatry Service or a Private Podiatrist.
Please make sure your podiatrist is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council and look out for the letters HCPC after their name.