What are bunions?
Bunions, also referred to as hallux valgus, are a deformity of the big toe. A bunion is the condition that the big toe is angled excessively towards the second toe and a bony lump appears on the side of the big toe. As the condition gets worse, the big toe rubs on the second toe, or pushes it up out of place. So, it presses on the shoe. In addition, because the big toe does not effectively work with a bunion, the other smaller toes have to take more burden of the body weight as you move, which leads to discomfort or pain. Your foot width may become so wider without being aware of it that it is difficult to find properly fitted shoes. So, appropriate care will be necessary before it is too late.
An estimated one million people in Australia are afflicted with bunions. No wonder most of them are female. This is because they wear more restrictive foot wears such as high heels and also, they tend to have looser ligaments.
Almost half of women have suffered foot problems after wearing an uncomfortable pair of shoes (Bunions are 13% of foot problems suffered by women). Moreover, one third admitted that they had worn heels they knew did not fit, simply because they “looked nice” or could not find a pair of shoes in right size.
Causes of bunions
- Wearing poorly fitting shoes can contribute to the development of bunions.
- Wearing too tight shoes may rub against your big toe joint.
- High-heeled shoes squeeze your feet, causing your big toe to remain in a bent position. They also push most of your body weight forwards onto the front of your foot, which places considerable strain on your toe joints.
Surgery should be considered as an option after trying non-surgical treatment if the symptom of your bunion is severe and the bunion still causes continuous pain. However, you should understand the downsides of the operation:
1. Less flexibility of your big toe
It may not be able to return to the same level of physical activity as before the operation. The operation will improve the width of your foot and position of your toe, but, will not give you a completely normal foot.
2. Approximately 15% failure rate of bunion surgery
There is no guarantee your foot will be perfectly straight or pain free.
3. Period of recovery after bunion surgery
It normally takes at least 6 weeks to 6 months to be fully recovered. For the first week, your foot will be sore and will swell up significantly. Therefore, you are advised to elevate your foot as much as possible and limited to walk to and from the bathroom. Additionally, you will not usually be able to wear normal shoes for at least six months after surgery and the majority of people will require six weeks off work.
Recurrence of bunions occurs in 5-20% of patients. It is more likely to happen to young people.
You can find out more about our bunion treatment solution here.