What are bunions?
The bunion is often described as a prominent bump/swelling on the side of the thumb. A visible bunion, however, is more than that, actually reflecting changes in the bone frame of the front of the foot. That is, a deformation of the position and bone ratios occurs by diverting the thumb from the toe to the other fingers.
How is our body affected?
Bunions may be present from birth, but most often occur in adulthood. Structural problems of the foot lead to irritation and deformation of the joint of the thumb.
The joint at the base of the thumb consists of two bones. One extends from the arch of the foot, and the other connects to the thumb.
For some people, the bone at the arch of the foot tends to curve outwards, and the bone of the big toe tends to turn inwards towards the second finger. After several years, the joint becomes irritated, causing the bunion growth. This causes irritation of the soft tissues covering the bones. The whole area becomes inflamed and even swells, while pushing harder and harder into the side of the shoe. The process worsens if wearing tight or heeled shoes, and eventually the bunions become painful, unsightly and create discomfort.
Causes and risks:
Bunions are most often caused by a defective mechanical structure that we inherit genetically. The buion itself is not inherited, but some types of feet are more prone to bunions than others.
This condition is hardly found at all in communities where shoes are not worn, so it can be inferred that one of the favourable causes of the disease is inappropriate footwear. Sharp-tipped shoes, high heels can contribute to the development of bunions, plus other collateral conditions: obesity, rheumatoid diseases, flat foot (platfus).
In general, women are much more affected than men, and pregnancy creates the necessary prerequisites for aggravating this condition.
A high degree of risk is presented by people who have poor circulation or have affected the sensitive function of the feet, and the healing of simple skin lesions (including the simple calluses) is hampered.
For those who suffer from diabetes and have lost their sensory function of the legs, their health should be carefully monitored. Lack of pain can allow an infection to develop unhindered, and in severe cases reaching the bones. In such situations, amputation of the affected limbs to save the patient’s life is the only solution.
The best way to prevent possible inflammation of the foot wearing shoes that support the arch of the foot, and that are sufficiently spacious so that the fingers are not crammed into each other. Frequent wear of sharp-tipped or heeled shoes should be avoided.
There are also plantar supports, orthotics that can keep inflammation of the foot under control and reduce pain by correct positioning and supporting of the foot.
Orthotics created specifically for bunions are useful to reduce pain and maintain constant pressure on the bunion, which prevents its aggravation and maintenance of comfort.
People prone to having bunions should act promptly. The simplest method of treatment and halting the evolution of the bunions is achieved primarily by wearing quality shoes to support the arch of the foot. It is advisable to wear custom orthopaedic shoes to stop the progression of deformation and to ensure increased comfort.
Surgical treatment will be applied only at the indication of an orthopaedic specialist, the chosen technique depending on the clinical degree of deformation. However, if the condition is asymptomatic and the patient has no pain, surgical treatment is not indicated.
As a non-invasive treatment, doctors recommend wearing:
– beading (planting supports) during the day – to compensate for the mechanical function of the foot
– correction aorthotics for nocturnal use
– protective cushions – that reduce friction, decrease inflammation, relieve pain and correct the deviation of the thumb.
All these medical devices can be used both prophylactically, for correction, and as a post-surgical treatment.