What are bunions, and why do I have them?
Bunions are one of the most common foot deformities in Australia. They are characterized by a bump that forms outside the big toe at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. In their early stages, bunions may go unnoticed, but, over time, they can grow and progress if not treated.
There are multiple reasons for bunion formation. It could be due to how you walk, the activities you are involved in, or how your foot is shaped.
Bunions are often observed on feet that experience overpronation (roll inwards when weight is placed). The arches of feet that overpronate collapse with each step. With repetitive movements such as walking or prolonged standing, this flattening of the arch fatigues the muscles of the feet that are trying to keep the feet neutral.
When the foot is aligned correctly, the MTP joint allows the big toe to bend up and down. It also provides a solid foundation upon which a person propels themselves forward. Overpronation causes the MTP joint to become twisted during these movements, placing a lot of stress on the joints, which can lead to swelling, pain, and the development of bunions.
Can orthotics help bunions?
Orthotic insoles can slow or halt the progression of bunions by supporting the arch and keeping the foot in a more neutral position. They prevent twisting of the MTP joint and, as a result, decrease the amount of stress placed on the big toe.
This can significantly slow bunion progression and help to alleviate associated discomfort. Orthotics themselves cannot cure bunions permanently; this would require surgical intervention. However, they can considerably reduce or even stop their growth.
Bunion risk factors
There are several factors to consider when gauging your risk for developing bunions:
- Genetics – Did your parents have bunions?
- Footwear – What type of shoes are you wearing? Are you wearing ill-fitting shoes (e.g., shoes that are too narrow or high heels) that crowd your toes?
- Surrounding muscles – Do you have any tight muscles in your foot, leg, or hips that could contribute to bunion formation?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you might be at a higher risk for bunion development.
Comment below with any questions you may have about bunions and what orthotics could do for you. We look forward to hearing from you!