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If you’ve been following some of my recent posts on Facebook, you may have noticed that our theme has been feet to get you ready for spring!    Foot & ankle problems are fairly common at my practice and often I get asked questions about bunions.  This problem is of special concern for ladies in preparation for sandals and open toe shoes.

Bunions, in case you didn’t know, is medically known as Hallux Valgus and affects the joint at the base of the first toe.  Bunions typically cause a deformity in the first toe, sometimes an enlargement of the joint or a bony bump can be seen.  As Bunions progress, the first toe starts to angle towards the 2nd toe, often pressing up against the 2nd toe.  Common symptoms include pain and swelling over the joint.  In some cases, osteoarthritis can develop in the joint, resulting in loss of range of motion.  This can cause increased pain during walking especially during the ‘toe off’ phase.  The toe off phase is when you push your back foot forward in preparation to take the next step.

Fact:  You can blame your family for your Bunions

Yes you can, you can tell them I told you so!  Bunions have a strong familial tendency.  Up to 68% of  bunions are hereditary.

Besides genetics, bunions have been linked to frequent use of tight fitting shoes and high heels.   Some medical literature also indicate that having flat feet (pes planus) leads to faster progression of bunions.

 

What can be done before it’s too late?

Custom Orthotics

Should you suspect that you have flat feet or excessively high arches, having an assessment of your foot structures would be quite valuable.  Adding custom orthotics BEFORE you develop bunions is much more effective in preventing bunions.  Once the bunion has formed, it is much harder to reverse the process.

 Acupuncture & Chiropractic

If you notice a bump forming over your big toe then you may want to consider acupuncture to some of the key muscles affecting the big toe.  There is an imbalance of the muscles controlling the big toe and acupuncture works to release a key taut muscle known as Adductor Hallucis.  Chiropractic adjustments also help to restore normal motion in the numerous small joints in your foot.  YES, your foot has bones can be adjusted.

Omega 3 Fish Oil

This product has tremendous evidence in reducing pain and inflammation related to any type of joint pain.  Contact me by e-mail if you’re not sure how much Omega 3 fish oil is necessary for relieving joint pain.  Check out this link on how to select a good fish oil that previously posted on my Facebook timeline.

Last resort:  Invasive Treatments

When the pain is unbearable, a cortisone injection into the joint can relieve the inflammation.  However, short-term and long-term side effects should be considered before you receive cortisone.  There are surgical procedures to address pain and immobility caused by bunions.  Personally, I would trial all other options before undergoing surgery.

Make sure you don’t have Gout

Sometimes people mistake a bunion for what really is gout.  Gout is an inflammatory type of arthritis that commonly affects the big toe also.  When Gout attacks, the big toe joint is red, hot and swollen.  Sometimes wearing socks or having blankets covering your feet can be enough to cause pain.  Gout can be managed with prescription medication from your family doctor.  Gout is also a something that occurs intermittently and can be limited with diet modification.  Bunions itself is not arthritis but it can lead to a osteoarthritis.  If you’re not sure which one you have, come in to see me for an evaluation.

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