Bunions are bony bumps that develop at the base of the big toe, causing it to deviate towards the other toes. They are often caused by genetics or wearing ill-fitting shoes over a prolonged period.

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Your Guide to Understanding Bunions

What is Bunions?

Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, are bony deformities that develop at the base of the big toe. They occur when the big toe starts to drift towards the other toes, causing the metatarsophalangeal joint (the joint where the toe meets the foot) to become misaligned. This misalignment leads to the formation of a bony bump on the side of the foot.

Bunions can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, foot structure, and footwear choices. In some cases, certain foot types are more prone to developing bunions, such as those with flat feet or a low arch. Wearing tight or narrow shoes, particularly those with pointed toes, can also contribute to the development of bunions. These types of shoes can squeeze the toes together and place excess pressure on the joint, leading to the gradual shifting of the toe.

Common symptoms associated with bunions include pain, swelling, redness, and stiffness around the affected area. The bunion itself may be tender to the touch and may cause discomfort while wearing certain types of shoes. As the condition progresses, the movement of the big toe may become restricted, making it difficult to walk or engage in activities that involve pushing off with the foot.

Treatment options for bunions vary depending on the severity of the condition and the level of discomfort experienced by the individual. Non-surgical treatments may include wearing roomier and more supportive footwear, using padding or orthotic devices to alleviate pressure on the bunion, and applying ice or taking over-the-counter pain relievers to manage pain and inflammation.

In cases where conservative measures do not provide sufficient relief, or if the bunion is causing significant functional impairment, surgical intervention may be recommended. Bunion surgery aims to realign the metatarsophalangeal joint, remove the bony bump, and restore proper foot function. However, it is important to note that surgery is typically reserved for more severe cases and should be discussed with a healthcare professional.

How can Chiropractic help treat Bunions?

Chiropractic services offer a non-invasive approach to alleviate bunion pain and provide relief. Chiropractors can use various techniques such as manipulation, massage, and ultrasound therapy to reduce inflammation and relieve pressure on the affected area.

By addressing the function of the foot and ankle joints, chiropractors can help restore proper function and improve mobility. Additionally, chiropractors may recommend exercises and stretches to strengthen the surrounding muscles and promote better foot mechanics, which can alleviate the symptoms associated with bunions. While chiropractic care does not reverse the deformity itself, it can significantly reduce pain and improve overall foot health.

What causes Bunions?

Bunions are typically caused by a combination of factors.

  • One common cause is an inherited foot structure. Some people have feet that are more prone to developing bunions due to their genetic makeup.
  • Another contributing factor is wearing tight or narrow shoes, especially those with pointed toes. These types of shoes can squeeze the toes together and put pressure on the joint, leading to the gradual shifting of the big toe.
  • Foot injuries or conditions that affect the joints or connective tissues can also increase the risk of developing bunions.
  • Additionally, certain foot types, such as flat feet or low arches, may be more susceptible to bunions.

It's important to note that while these factors can increase the likelihood of developing bunions, they don't necessarily guarantee their occurrence.

What treatments might help Bunions?

Treatment for bunions aims to alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and improve the overall condition of the foot. Here are some ways in which treatment can help improve bunions:

  • Changing footwear: Wearing roomy, comfortable shoes with a wide toe box can provide relief by reducing pressure on the bunion and allowing the toes to spread out.
  • Pain management: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with bunions.
  • Hot and cold therapy: Alternating between applying warm soaks and ice packs to the affected area can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
  • Orthotic devices: Custom-made shoe inserts or orthotic devices can help redistribute pressure away from the bunion, providing support and reducing discomfort.
  • Physical therapy exercises: Specific exercises and stretches recommended by a healthcare professional or physiotherapist can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the bunion, improve flexibility, and enhance foot function.
  • Topical pain-relief gels: Applying topical gels, such as those containing ingredients like menthol or capsaicin, can provide temporary relief by numbing the area and reducing pain.

Signs of Bunions:

The signs of bunions can vary from person to person, but some common symptoms include:

  • Bump on the base of the big toe: A visible bump can develop on the inner side of the foot near the base of the big toe. This bump is often red, swollen, and tender to the touch.
  • Misalignment of the big toe: The big toe may start to lean towards the other toes, causing it to point inward. This can lead to crowding of the toes and discomfort when wearing shoes.
  • Pain or soreness: Bunions can cause pain or soreness around the affected area. This pain can be aggravated by pressure from shoes or during activities that involve the foot.
  • Limited mobility: As bunions progress, the joint at the base of the big toe may become stiff and less flexible. This can result in difficulty moving the toe and decreased range of motion.
  • Corns or calluses: Due to the friction and pressure caused by the misaligned toe, corns or calluses may develop on or between the toes.

Symptoms of Bunions:

The symptoms of bunions can vary, but they often include:

  • Visible bump: A noticeable bump on the inside of the foot at the base of the big toe.
  • Redness and swelling: The affected area may appear red and swollen.
  • Pain or discomfort: Bunions can cause pain or discomfort in the affected area, particularly when walking, wearing shoes, or applying pressure to the foot.
  • Restricted movement: The joint at the base of the big toe may become stiff, making it difficult to move the toe freely.
  • Corns and calluses: Due to friction and pressure, corns or calluses may develop on or between the toes.
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When is the right time to see a Chiropractor for Bunions?

The right time to see a chiropractor for bunions is when you are experiencing symptoms that affect your daily life or when you want to explore non-surgical treatment options. If you notice pain, swelling, or stiffness in your foot, difficulty walking or exercising, or if your bunions are causing discomfort or affecting your mobility, it may be a good idea to seek professional help.

These healthcare professionals can assess your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and offer appropriate treatment strategies based on your specific needs. It's also beneficial to consult with them if you're interested in exploring conservative approaches or complementary therapies to manage bunions and improve foot function. Ultimately, the decision to seek their assistance depends on your individual circumstances and the impact of the bunions on your overall well-being.

Meet our Lead Chiropractor

Dr. Brett Herlehy

Dr. Brett Herlehy


Doctor of Chiropractic from New York Chiropractic College

Dr. Brett enjoys working with active individuals looking to reach the next level and also anyone who is trying to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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