Bunions: Non-Surgical Solutions and Prevention of Pain

Hallux valgus

A bunion is a growth that forms at the side of your big toe joint.  It is usually associated with your big toe deviating toward the second toe.  It may look and feel like a bony bump sticking out from the side of your joint.  Some call it a calcium deposit, but actually, it is arthritic bone buildup.  This arthritic bone can affect the entire joint leading to complete deterioration of the joint itself.  Some develop and progress faster than others. You may have heard of a tailor bunion.  To avoid confusion, the tailor bunion does not involve the big toe joint but rather the little toe joint.  It essentially develops via the same mechanism of a traditional bunion.
Bunions may or may not become painful.  If the bone or soft tissue about the joint becomes inflamed then it will become painful, sometimes extremely painful.  Shoes can aggravate this pain, but they are not the primary cause of the bunion itself.  In most cases, the cause of the bunion is faulty mechanics of the joint itself.  Although it may seem like a simple ball and socket joint, in actuality it functions through a very complex multi-axis range of motion.  Whenever its’ normal motions becomes inhibited from moving, it undergoes abnormal pressures within the joint, leading to arthritis and pain.  If you avoid these abnormal pressures, arthritis may not develop. If you already have arthritis, it is less likely to become inflamed or painful.
 How you can treat bunions nonsurgically:   
  •  Wear shoes that have an ideal fit.  Shoes that are too short can cramp your big toe causing it to deviate to the second toe, misaligning the joint.  Shoes that are too narrow will put pressure on the side, compressing the soft tissue of the joint as well as the arthritic bone.  Most importantly, even if you have a “good” shoe, the shoe fit needs to align the joint with the bend or the widest part of the shoe.  This will assist normal function of the joint preventing it from jamming or locking up which causes increased pressure and arthritis buildup.
  • Use the sock you’ll wear with the shoe when you are being fit with the shoe.  Socks vary in thickness, sometimes a thicker sock may feel better, but if you sized the shoe with a thin sock and then use the shoe with a thicker sock, you’ve added pressure to the bunion.  Also, socks should not be too tight as this will add pressure to the area as well.
  • Purchase a “good” shoe with support or get a “healthy” shoe. The question many people ask is whether a good or healthy shoe will prevent or treat bunions. There is no one answer for everyone.  It depends on your foot. A good, supportive, or healthy shoe is actually a shoe that ideally fits your feet. Not only from a size stand point, but also from a supportive standpoint about the bottom, sides, front, back, and top.  All these need to be taken into consideration.
  • Buy custom molded prescription orthotics.  The description “Custom Orthotics” is becoming an abused phrase.  There are many claiming custom orthotics, yet what you are actually receiving is analogous to a single over the counter pair of glasses – the same one is sold to everyone.  Understand, there are many people “Gellin” yet still in pain.  A true custom moldedprescription orthotic will match all contoured arches of your feet as well as maximize the function of all your joints, especially the big toe joint.  Maximal big toe joint function relieves pressure, pain and slows arthritis development.
  • In severe cases, a custom molded shoe may be necessary.   Many times, with the increasing availability of well-constructed “Comfort Shoes,” combined with a custom orthotic, custom molded shoes are not necessary.  However, for the significantly deformed foot/bunion, one might have to resort to a custom made shoe.  At ArchMasters, we can usually fit your feet with a stylish shoe without having needing a custom made shoe.  If necessary, a custom made pair of shoes, like an orthotic, will ideally match all the contours or your feet.  This will not only provide support and function but will also give you a better feel and promote optimal function which results in the reduction or elimination of pain.


 If you have a bunion, you have a problem.  Bunions should not be ignored, even if you are not experiencing pain.  They can result in continued deformity, severe pain and even lead to immobility.
 Stop the progression of bunions on your feet.  Get relief from current pain by stopping into ArchMasters–Orthotics, Shoes & Footcare, llc.  Our expert staff will be happy to find the ideal footwear for your personal needs. If you have any questions or concerns, call facility at (615) 370-3000 and ask to speak with our podiatrist, Dr. David Sables.

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