Are you searching for bunion pain relief? If so, you are not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from foot and ankle related issues. Not only can these issues cause pain, but they can eventually lead to a lack of mobility.
In addition, while some of these problems require surgery or drugs, many of them can be addressed with less invasive care. Because we see bunion problems in the clinic often, here are the reasons they occur, along with at-home tips for bunion pain relief.
What is a bunion?
First, what exactly is a bunion? A bunion is a condition that is caused by the big toe angling away from your body towards the 2nd toe. The fancy medical term we use for a bunion is hallux valgus, which translates to an “increased toe angle.”
Once the toe starts to angle away from your body, your body enters a protection phase by increasing the production of bone and soft tissue around the joint. In the early stages, this leads to a purely cosmetic issue around the toe knuckle without pain. In the later stages, patients can complain that the area is painful to touch and even hurts while walking.
What Causes Bunions?
While the bunion manifests itself in your toe, the actual root of the problem is higher up in your body. Dysfunction in your ankles, knees, and hips can all be contributing factors to your bunion pain. As a result of these dysfunctions, the body compensates for every step you take.
In the physical therapy world, our fancy term for how you walk is “gait pattern.” During optimal walking, your big toe is the last part of your foot to leave the ground. With a perfect gait pattern, your big toe is like a bowstring during these final moments. Fully taught ready to spring you forward.
However, in people with bunions, the midfoot collapses due to weak hip muscles. These weak muscles are unable to control the motion of the leg below. Instead, you push off the inside of your foot like an ice skate, rather than letting your big toe spring you forward. By taking our recommended 10,000 steps each day, you can quickly see how your foot structure will change to compensate.
Six Steps To Prevent Bunions or Provide Bunion Pain Relief
Here are a few quick things you can change right now to help prevent a bunion from occurring or for bunion pain relief:
1. Wear shoes with wide toe boxes
The wider toe box allows your foot to splay on the ground the way it was meant to. A narrow shoe with a small toe box is performing the same mechanism of deformation as an ancient foot binding. Only to a lesser extreme.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Staying in that healthy weight range for your age not only helps you with bunion pain relief, it also reduces your risk of heart attack and high blood pressure. Plus, it will make you feel good and give you more energy!
3. Exercise regularly
Get into the habit of exercising and adding more movement to your daily routine. Even if its just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking.
4. Get fitted for orthotics
Orthotics can be helpful to not only support your feet properly but also keep them in the proper alignment when running, walking, or hiking. In addition, our foot care department at Catalyst PT & Wellness can provide custom orthotic prescriptions!
Fill out our request form now, or call us at 619-501-2195 for an appointment.
5. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is one of the oldest medical practices still around today. We’ve adapted this Eastern medicine into our routine care and offer several types of massage- sports, deep tissue, neuromuscular, prenatal, and even chair massages.
6. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation
As with most common injuries, the tried and true method of R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) will help alleviate foot and ankle pain. As an example, a warm soak with Epsom salts or an ice pack in the evening will bring bunion pain relief.
Additional Treatments For Bunions
The quick fix for a bunion is a surgery known as a bunionectomy. During the surgical procedure, the bone and soft tissue on the big toe is cut out and the big toe is reset into position. Besides dealing with post-surgical pain, recovery can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months.
Unfortunately, the success rate of these surgeries is mixed. The bunion is not the actual problem, but rather the area in the body that is compensating for the problem. Remember we called this a quick fix. We have seen bunions re-develop after surgery. Therefore, the cause of the bunion in the first place was never addressed!
Physical Therapy treatment involves assessing your walking mechanics. First, we identify the contributors altering your foot and ankle mechanics. Often we find imbalances in muscles and joints of your hip, knees, ankles, and even your core muscles!
Second, we teach you strengthening and stretching techniques. Third, we have you move in functional patterns. This allows your body to incorporate your new strength and range of motion into daily life.
Not sure if your injury can be treated with physical therapy? This is why we offer free injury screenings. An injury screen is a quick, 15-minute video or in-person chat that can allow a doctor of physical therapy to assess your signs/symptoms.
If your therapist determines your symptoms stem from an orthopedic issue, together you can discuss which course of action will work best for you. Whether it’s telehealth or in-person PT appointments, we can help you get your body back in action. Fill out our request form, or call us at 619-501-2195 to book an appointment.
Bunion pain can not only be uncomfortable, but it can also make it harder to do the things you love- run, jump, play with your little ones. Spend a little time taking care of your feet now, and you’ll be pain-free for years to come.
Looking for more information about foot and ankle health? Check out our Foot and Ankle Guide.