BUNIONS - SHAVING THEM OFF ISN'T THE SOLUTION
Tommy Conway - Chartered Physiotherapist and Director - OneHEALTH
Do you see your big toe starting to turn in? Are you worried you're going to get feet like your mother or grandmother? We have all heard the stories of the bunion sufferer, who can no longer wear the shoes they want. Who can no longer walk long distances with the pain. Who has got them shaved off, for them to return a few months later. Who got surgery on them but when you take off your socks at night you see them starting to form again. Why oh why oh why, oh why you!? I have empathy as you have been told a lie, there is nothing you can do, it’s hereditary. There is nothing you can do, you need to wear wider shoes, don't pull your laces tight, keep them paired down, keep with your monthly trips to the chiropodist but did you ever think why they happen in the first place? Did you ever think the bunion is only the result of a problem happening further up the body? Did you ever think bunions can be prevented and cured? For you and the next generation!
What are bunions?
Bunions are very painful conditions that occur on the outside of the big toe and little toe. Bunions are slow to progress but over a ten year period can become very big and painful. This slow progression causes bony bumps to form. They present as:
You can see bunions forming in kids as young as ten years old and that is the time to start correcting them.
What causes bunions?
The bunions grow on either side of your foot, they grow outwards. This will tell you what the problem is, the foot is trying to get bigger. It is trying to create space for the rest of the bones to move. When your foot is on the ground, the bones have to spread out and create space for your foot to make contact with the ground. This creation of space is so important for the feet to move correctly and move you forward. When the bones of the feet get stiff and stop spreading out, it causes problems, it causes bunions. It’s like when you are driving along a straight narrow road but you get to a “T” junction, you can go left or right. See the bunions are allowing you to turn, to move, to keep going, it’s the narrow road you were just on that limited your options, blame that instead of the bunions.
Lets focus on the big toe bunion as this is the most common. The big toe has to be very flexible when you are walking. If your feet are unable to spread out, your big toe will start to lose flexibility. What happens when you can’t use the big toe but you still need to walk forwards? You start to bypass it. You start to turn the big toe in and a bunion forms on the outside of the bone above your big toe, this becomes your new big toe. The problem is happening from the stiff bones above the big toe, not the big toe. You need to stop the problem at the source.
What do you do?
If you already have a severe bunion and your strategy is simply to get them shaved off every few months, it’s not a good strategy. When I see bunion cases in my clinic I first need to identify which part of your foot is stuck? Stephen, my foot specialist, would do a foot scan with our 3D scanner, a full body range of movement assessment, a walking analysis and finally a specialised foot assessment. This foot assessment is the most important aspect because when we identify which bone is stiff or stuck, we can start to correct the bunion problem from the source. Once we know the source of the problem, we would start building our custom 3D foot insoles so that your foot would be in the correct position all day. This is very important for bunions, exercises alone will make minimal difference, it has gone too far you need a helping hand to bring it back.
A similar case would be noticing a bunion forming at a young age, bunions are often handed down from generation to generation. So when you look at your own feet and then check your son or daughters, just remember to stop the problem at source and get the feet corrected from an early age.
A side note, I have had a lot of bunions in my clinic over the years but the complaint of pain isn’t the bunion. This condition of bunions is a sign that the body needs more space and once the bunion is maxed out on where it can go, the body needs more space to move so it starts to get it from the knees, hips and spine. Remember the body is One, treat it as One.
I hope this helps you and your future generations.