Knowing how bunions develop is helpful in selecting the appropriate bunion treatment. In general, most bunion deformities are a result of foot structure and function which are genetic. As the heel strikes the ground when walking, the joints of the foot unlock and absorb impact. Referred to as pronation, the arch collapses causing the feet to flatten. This flattening causes excessive tension of the tendon in the upper mid-foot that enables the big toe to bend upward. The tendon contracts which then forces the big toe to be pulled laterally toward the second toe. It can take many years for a bunion to develop, and especially to the point of pain. One can have a bunion but not yet experience any bunion pain. Conversely, one can suffer from bunion pain without having a severe deformity.
No single cause or set of causes for bunions has been identified, although gender-women develop them more frequently than men-and heredity play a role. In addition, the foot gradually widens with age as the ligaments that connect the bones in the forefoot become more lax. Contrary to what many people believe, ill-fitting footwear is not the cause of bunions. In fact, bunions are found in populations all over the world, including among those who never wear shoes. Shoes that are too tight can, however, contribute to the progression of the condition. Bunions are often bilateral, that is, appearing in both feet. Although bunions are usually seen in people who are middle-aged or older, there are adolescents who are diagnosed with the condition, usually the result of a congenital problem.
The initial symptom may be pain at the joint prominence when wearing certain shoes. The joint capsule may be tender at any stage. Later symptoms may include a painful, warm, red, cystic, movable, fluctuant swelling located medially (adventitial bursitis) and swellings and mild inflammation affecting the entire joint (osteoarthritic synovitis), which is more circumferential. With hallux limitus or rigidus, there is restriction of passive joint motion, tenderness at the dorsolateral aspect of the joint, and increased dorsiflexion of the distal phalanx.
Your doctor will ask questions about your past health and carefully examine your toe and joint. Some of the questions might be: When did the bunions start? What activities or shoes make your bunions worse? Do any other joints hurt? The doctor will examine your toe and joint and check their range of motion. This is done while you are sitting and while you are standing so that the doctor can see the toe and joint at rest and while bearing weight. X-rays are often used to check for bone problems or to rule out other causes of pain and swelling. Other tests, such as blood tests or arthrocentesis (removal of fluid from a joint for testing), are sometimes done to check for other problems that can cause joint pain and swelling. These problems might include gout , rheumatoid arthritis , or joint infection.
Non Surgical Treatment
Most of the time, non-surgical (conservative) treatment can control the symptoms of a foot bunion or bunionette. These include. Appropriate Footwear, changing to wide fitting footwear reduces the pressure on the big toe and prevents shoes from rubbing on the bony lump. When possible, go barefoot Toe stretchers are a really simple way to reduce foot bunion pain. Toe Stretchers, wearing toe spaces that fit in-between the toes help to stretch the muscles and ligaments around the toes, improving the alignment and relieving pain. Find out more about how these work in the Toe Stretcher section. Painkillers, your doctor may prescribe or recommend over-the-counter medication to reduce the pain and inflammation. Foot bunion correctors can be worn in your shoe to help realign your foot if you suffer from foot bunions. Orthotics. There are a number of over-the-counter shoe inserts that can help relieve symptoms. Bunion correctors work by realigning the bones in your foot to reduce pressure on the affected toe. There are both day-time and night-time splints on the market, although the evidence of their effectiveness is lacking. Ice. Applying ice packs to the foot can help reduce pain and inflammation. Bunion pads help to reduce any friction on your big toe. Bunion Pads. You can also get protective foot cushions that sit over the skin to prevent the hallux abducto valgus rubbing on your shoes.
In 2010, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published guidance about a minimally invasive surgical procedure to treat bunions. The aim of the procedure is to repair the tilting of the big toe. The technique can be carried out under a local anaesthetic or a general anaesthetic, using X-rays or an endoscope for guidance. The type of endoscope used will be a long, thin, rigid tube with a light source and video camera at one end. One or more incisions will be made near the big toe so that bone-cutting instruments can be inserted. These will be used to remove the bunion and to divide one or more bones located at the front of the foot. Wires, screws or plates will be used to keep the divided bones in place. After the procedure, you may need to wear a plaster cast or dressing to keep your foot in the correct position until the bones have healed. You may be given a special surgical shoe that enables you to walk on your heel. As the procedure is relatively new, there's little in the way of reliable evidence regarding its safety or effectiveness.
Often misunderstood, pronation is considered by many to be a negative attribute; pronation is actually a good thing in the correct amount. Pronation is the body's response to the ground forces incurred during running and walking. When the foot impacts the ground, the arch elongates and flattens, which allows the foot to roll inward. This action helps the body to absorb shock. The degree to which the arch flattens is often associated with the degree the foot pronates. An ideal foot-strike is said to be neutral and is characterized by slight inward movement of the ankle-bone during stance (when the foot is in contact with the ground). Most runners for example exhibit over-pronation in varying degrees. 50-60% of runners exhibit mild to moderate over-pronation and are best suited for support orthotics. 20-30% of runners exhibit severe over-pronation and are best suited for motion control shoes.
Over-pronation has different causes. Obesity, pregnancy, age or repetitive pounding on a hard surface can weaken the arch leading to over-pronation. Over-pronation is also very common with athletes, especially runners and most of them nowadays use orthotics inside their shoes. Over-pronation affects millions of people and contributes to a range of common complaints including sore, aching feet, ball of foot pain, heel Pain, achilles tendonitis, bunions, shin pain, tired, aching legs, knee pain and lower back pain. The most effective treatment solution for over-pronation is wearing an orthotic shoe insert. Orthotics correct over-pronation, thereby providing natural, lasting pain relief from many common biomechanical complaints.
If you overpronate, your symptoms may include discomfort in the arch and sole of foot. Your foot may appear to turn outward at the ankle. Your shoes wear down faster on the medial (inner) side of your shoes. Pain in ankle, shins, knees, or hips, especially when walking or running.Unfortunately, overpronation can lead to additional problems with your feet, ankles, and knees. Runners in particular find that overpronation can lead to shin splints, tarsal tunnel syndrome, plantar fasciitis, compartment syndrome, achilles tendonitis, bunions (hallux valgus) patello femoral pain syndrome, heel spurs, metatarsalgia. You do not have to be a runner or athlete to suffer from overpronation. Flat feet can be inherited, and many people suffer from pain on a day-to-day basis. Flat feet can also be traumatic in nature and result from tendon damage over time. Wearing shoes that do not offer enough arch support can also contribute to overpronation.
The best way to discover whether you have a normal gait, or if you overpronate, is to visit a specialty run shop, an exercise physiologist, a podiatrist or a physical therapist who specializes in working with athletes. A professional can analyze your gait, by watching you either walk or run, preferably on a treadmill. Some facilities can videotape your gait, then analyze the movement of your feet in slow-motion. Another (and less costly) way is to look at the bottom of an older pair of run shoes. Check the wear pattern. A person with a normal gait will generally see wear evenly across the heel and front of the shoe. A person who overpronates will likely see more wear on the OUTside of the heel and more wear on the INside of the forefoot (at the ball). A person who supinates will see wear all along the outer edges of the shoe. You can also learn about your gait by looking at your arches. Look at the shape your wet feet leave on a piece of paper or a flat walking surface.
Non Surgical Treatment
Heel counters that make the heel of the shoe stronger to help resist/reduce excessive rearfoot motions. The heel counter is the hard piece in the back of the shoe that controls the foot?s motion from side-to-side. You can quickly test the effectiveness of a shoe?s heel counter by placing the shoe in the palm of your hand and putting your thumb in the mid-portion of the heel, trying to bend the back of the shoe. A heel counter that does not bend very much will provide superior motion control. Appropriate midsole density, the firmer the density, the more it will resist motion (important for a foot that overpronates or is pes planus), and the softer the density, the more it will shock absorb (important for a cavus foot with poor shock absorption) Wide base of support through the midfoot, to provide more support under a foot that is overpronated or the middle of the foot is collapsed inward.
Custom-made orthotics will reduce the twisting of the leg muscles as they enter the foot, by maintaining a normal alignment of the bones and joints of the foot. If the bones and joints are aligned properly, by reducing the pronation, the muscles can run straight to their attachments in the foot, without twisting to get to these bones. This action of custom-made orthotics will reduce Achilles Tendonitis shin splints; ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain; and leg cramps. This action will also allow the leg muscles to work more efficiently, thus allowing you to walk and run with less effort.
Sever's disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is the term used to describe irritation (inflammation) of the calcaneal apophysis. This condition often occurs before or during the growth spurt in boys and girls, or shortly after they begin a new activity. Sever's disease is common is running and jumping sports.
The exact cause of Severs disease is not completely understood. It is thought to be associated with an overuse type injury, in which repetitive stress from the Achilles tendon causes a portion of the growth plate to pull away from the heel. In medical terms, this is described as cyclic, micro-avulsion type fractures to the calcaneal apophyses.
Sever condition causes pain at the back of the heel. The pain is increased with plantar flexion of the ankle (pushing down with the foot as if stepping on the gas), particularly against resistance. Sever condition also causes tenderness and swelling in the area of the pain.
A doctor can usually tell that a child has Sever's disease based on the symptoms reported. To confirm the diagnosis, the doctor will probably examine the heels and ask about the child's activity level and participation in sports. The doctor might also use the squeeze test, squeezing the back part of the heel from both sides at the same time to see if doing so causes pain. The doctor might also ask the child to stand on tiptoes to see if that position causes pain. Although imaging tests such as X-rays generally are not that helpful in diagnosing Sever's disease, some doctors order them to rule out other problems, such as fractures. Sever's disease cannot be seen on an X-ray.
Non Surgical Treatment
Sever?s disease is a self-limiting problem, because as your child grows the growth plate will eventually fuse with the main body of the heel bone. This happens at about 14 -15 years of age. Once foot growth is complete and the growth plate has fused, the symptoms will resolve. In the meantime, treatment by your Podiatrist will help your child return to normal sporting activities without heel pain slowing him/her down.
The surgeon may select one or more of the following options to treat calcaneal apophysitis. Reduce activity. The child needs to reduce or stop any activity that causes pain. Support the heel. Temporary shoe inserts or custom orthotic devices may provide support for the heel. Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the pain and inflammation. Physical therapy. Stretching or physical therapy modalities are sometimes used to promote healing of the inflamed issue. Immobilization. In some severe cases of pediatric heel pain, a cast may be used to promote healing while keeping the foot and ankle totally immobile. Often heel pain in children returns after it has been treated because the heel bone is still growing. Recurrence of heel pain may be a sign of calcaneal apophysitis, or it may indicate a different problem. If your child has a repeat bout of heel pain, be sure to make an appointment with your foot and ankle surgeon.