Foot pain can be wholly debilitating and cause changes in your daily routine simply because it causes discomfort while walking. One common source of foot pain is a bunion, a bony bump formed on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint. Bunions develop slowly and worsen over time, but chiropractic treatments can “correct your foot dysfunction and return you to your regular activities,” says Dr. Rick Gross of Quality Care Chiropractic.
“Bunions occur when the foot is not functioning correctly,” notes Dr. Gross. They develop slowly when the big toe drifts toward the smaller toes. This leaning causes misalignment and pressure on the big toe’s metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint and gradually alters the normal positioning of the foot’s bones, tendons, and ligaments. The result is a bony abnormality at the joint called a bunion. Because the MTP joint flexes with every step, as the bunion gets bigger, the more painful and difficult walking can become because of direction irritation on the bump and altered mechanics in the ball of the foot.
Bunions show up as a visible bump on the inside of the foot that causes pain and tenderness, redness and inflammation, hardened skin on the bottom of the foot or on the bump, and stiffness or restricted motion in the big toe.
Although more common in women and often hereditary through foot shape and structure, bunions can happen to anyone wearing poorly fitting shoes, especially those with a narrow, pointed toe box that unnaturally cramps the toes. They also can be caused by inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or neuromuscular conditions like polio.
Advanced bunions can greatly alter the appearance of the foot with severe angling or callus development, both of which cause discomfort and impede walking as well as introduce additional problems. In some cases, the enlarged joint leads to bursitis, a painful inflammation of the fluid-filled sac cushioning the bone near the joint. It also can lead to chronic pain and arthritis if the cartilage covering the joint becomes damaged.
Other less common bunions are adolescent bunions, most common in girls aged 10–15, and bunionettes, which occur near the base of the little toe.
In many cases, bunion pain can lessen by wearing properly sized footwear that reduces pressure on the big toe. Choose shoes with wide insteps, broad toe boxes, soft soles, and stability, and avoid shoes that are too short, too tight, sharply pointed, or have heels above a few inches. For pain that occurs with motion, choose a shoe with a slight rocker bottom.
Shoe fit varies even within a shoe size, so judge footwear not by a number but by how it feels on your foot. Find shoes that best match the shape and size of your feet. They should allow adequate space for your longest toe, a good fit for the ball of your foot in the widest part of the shoe, and a comfortable fit for the heel with minimum slippage while walking. Note that feet can change over time, so have them measured regularly and at the end of the day. Also, most people have one foot that is larger than the other, so make sure to fit the largest foot.
In addition, protective silicone pads can be worn inside the shoe to help cushion the painful area over the bunion. However, this also can increase pressure on the bump and worsen the pain. You also can try over-the-counter or custom-made orthotics. Dr. Gross advises, “We use top-of-the-line custom foot orthotics to help correct foot problems, especially in the arch. Sole Supports have been shown to be the best shoe inserts available.” Other recommendations include toe spacers or even braces or splints, but those are not permanent fixes for bunions.
In cases where extreme pain persists despite changes in footwear and other nonsurgical treatment, surgery can correct a bunion deformity with the goal of relieving pain. The surgery aims to realign the bone, ligaments, tendons, and nerves so the big toe can be brought back to its correct position and typically involves shaving off the tissue sticking out and perhaps part of the bone to straighten out the toe. A point of caution is that surgery commonly carries a long recovery—from three months to a year—and includes a period of immobilization with no weightbearing, time with crutches or a walker, and time in a splint or boot.
Chiropractic treatment is a sound, nonsurgical route for helping treat foot pain caused by conditions like bunions.
Dr. Gross explains, “Many people have feet that are locked up, which causes pain and deformities. With our specific, effective chiropractic foot adjustments, we get the 26 bones in your foot moving the way they are supposed to. Most people, including many podiatrists, don’t even know that their foot is locked up because they don’t check the 31 different joints in each foot.”
While in his practice he also recommends orthotics and exercises as part of the chiropractic solution, Dr. Gross attests, “Foot adjustments are the most important part of the process. We don’t want to simply cushion your foot or avoid the problem by making more space in your shoes. We want to restore correct function in your foot and all its joints.”
If you or anyone you know is suffering from the uncomfortable pain of bunions, contact us at Quality Care Chiropractic in Aurora, IL, at (630) 499-2225. We can answer your questions and help you get in step on your way back whole-body health.Schedule an Appointment