| 16/05/2021



What do you need to know - Mr Charlie Jowett

At Clifton Park Hospital Ltd we believe your feet should be pain free. Here’s what you need to know to keep your bunions from getting worse.

Bunions are a foot deformity that may make it difficult to walk or to wear shoes comfortably, often visible from a protruding lump at the base of your big toe. 

It is estimated that 30% of the UK suffer from them to some degree, with women being more prone to developing bunions. A common misconception is that bunions are caused by wearing high heels, whilst it is true that wearing tight footwear can make bunions worse, bunions are actually a hereditary condition. 

Bunions are misaligned bones

The big lump on the side of your foot that’s growing sore and red may not be just a callus, it could be down to changes in your toe joints causing a bunion. A bunion occurs when your big toe becomes misaligned and your big toe becomes angled towards your lesser toes.

When the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint-MTP) angles toward your toes, the base pushes outward and protrudes causing the lump. The misaligned MTP joint also causes your big toe to rub against or even overlap your second toe.

Depending on how severe your misalignment is, a bunion can make it difficult to find appropriate footwear. A bunion can also become painful if you wear tight shoes that rub against the lump and movement may irritate the MTP joint causing pain when walking or running.

Your shoes count

Even though bunions aren’t caused by tight shoes, wearing tight shoes can make a bunion worse and lead to other foot problems.

When you wear high heels weight is distributed unevenly to the ball of your foot and your toes, or when the toe box is so tight it crams your toes together, your big toe crowds your other toes.

When toes don’t have enough room to operate separately, they rub against one another, creating friction that can cause corns and calluses. 

Corns and calluses are hard or thick areas of skin that can become painful.

To alleviate a bunion and give your toes the space they need, choose shoes with a roomy toe box. Also avoid high heels if possible.

Bunions get worse

Bunions don’t go away on their own. If you want to resolve a bunion, your first step is to see a podiatrist. They may be able to help relieve the pressure by ordering custom-designed orthotics or inserts  to wear in your shoes.

The orthotics support your feet and nudge your toe bones into a better alignment.

If you wear footwear that’s too tight, or if your bunion worsens, it may be painful to walk or to stand on your feet for too long. Changing footwear, soaking your feet in warm water, and wearing bunion pads may help.

We may also recommend pain relief to control the symptoms caused by an irritated bunion.

When conservative measures aren’t enough to resolve your pain, our surgeons may recommend bunion surgery. Over a hundred different surgical techniques have been described and our surgeons will offer the most appropriate operation for you.

It is likely that your surgery will be performed as a day case operation under a general anaesthetic. You will wear a special post operative shoe for 6 weeks following your operation. It is common for you be able to bear weight on the foot straight after the operation.

If you’d like relief from bunion pain, contact us by phone or complete our online enquiry form.


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