Bunions are a common presentation with most complaints being a result of pain or the aesthetic of the toe. Bunions or hallux abductor valgus are associated with structural changes to the big toe with a boney lump and malalignment of the toe itself.
Common things that contribute to bunions are genetics, inappropriate footwear with a narrow toe box, biomechanical factors and arthritis of the big toe joint.
Often people will have early-stage bunions and not even know about it. Over time, if the causative factors continue, the big toe will continue to progress further towards the second toe. You may notice the growth of the joint of the big toe, reduced motion or increased stiffness of the joint, pain at the toe and perhaps difficulty fitting into your shoes or even rubbing at the side of the joint while you’re wearing them.
As the bunion progresses from stage one to potentially stage three, there’s an increased likelihood of pain or further abnormality. For each stage, there are treatments to improve function and reduce pain. These can involve exercises to improve intrinsic strength of the foot and alignment, the appropriate footwear use, mobilization of the joint to maintain and improve function and joint range and custom orthotics even to improve alignment and function in most cases.