Don’t be fooled by its harmless-sounding, commonly used name! As the Latin name suggests, bunions are a deformity of the big toe (hallux), turning outwards (valgus) towards the small toes. In this article we will explain how the bunions are formed, how they can be prevented and what treatment steps we follow at our Clinics, in Chelsea and soon Notting Hill, London, to avoid increased pain and surgery.
WHAT IS A BUNION?
Hallux Valgus, is a common malalignment of the bones which make up the big toe joint. The joint’s abnormal alignment gradually forces the toe to point outwards, towards the second toe, creating a prominent “bump”, made up of bone and soft tissue, on the inside of the foot. That’s where the name “bunion” has originated from. A simple way to visualise what’s happening during this condition is by pushing your thumb towards and slightly over, your index finger. That’s similar to what happens on the foot, only the force comes from other factors which are explained further below.
HOW & WHEN DO BUNIONS OCCUR?
It is commonly known that bunions occur on the female body more often than in the male. Why is that though? Before your brain screams “high heels”, and while it would be accurate to a certain degree, let us stop you since the issue lies much deeper.
Women’s ligaments are looser than mens’, which allows more space for the joints to move incorrectly, which can eventually cause this abnormality. Therefore, high heels and narrow shoes added to that factor, increasing the chances of the female body developing a bunion.
Additionally, poor posture that’s caused by tight hips and hamstrings, as well as weak glutes and core, add additional stress to the forefoot of the feet pushing them further outwards.
Another factor that can contribute to the development of a bunion, is the changing body. Weight, whether it is due to pregnancy or other factors, will add significant load to the lower body, increasing the chances of developing or worsening the condition. Hormonal changes and bone density can also affect the deformity, again, making women more prone to it, especially as they age.
Lastly, heredity plays a big role in bunion formation. Therefore, women whose parents or grandparents carried this deformity, are advised to take preventive steps (mentioned in the next section), as the bunion could begin to form much later in life.
WHAT PROBLEMS DO BUNIONS CAUSE?
Depending on the severity of the condition, bunions can cause anything from minor discomfort, to triggering further musculoskeletal deformities.
Day to day issues can include:
- Hard time finding shoes that fit and don’t cause further discomfort;
- Constant pain and discomfort that interrupts daily activities (walking, cleaning, working out etc);
- Painful inflammation in the affected area;
- Aesthetic problems depending on how severe the deformity is.
- Causing other deformities on the foot, such as hammer toe or claw toe;
- Development of persistent corns and calluses;
- Extensively altered weight-bearing patterns, that can affect the Patient’s posture and cause chronic pain in other parts of the body (knees, hips, back);
- Inability to stand/walk for longer periods of time.
If left untreated, the bunion will continue to grow, eventually impacting the Patient’s overall quality of life.
HOW CAN BUNIONS BE TREATED?
There are various ways to prevent and cure bunions. Depending on the stage of the condition, our Team of Practitioners will prescribe a Plan of Care, with the objective to offload the weight from the joint, relieve pain, correct the misalignment and prevent it from recurring. How? By rewiring the Patient’s brain!
Everything from our walking pattern, to our screen time influences the weaknesses in our bodies. The crossed legs under your desk increase the tightness in your hips, the wallet in your trousers’ back-pocket gets your spine more twisted, and your tinder swiping is giving you chronic tendonitis!
Every part of our body is connected, and no habit is too small or insignificant to be ignored. That’s why whatever treatment route we choose to take, the end goal is the same: Reconditioning your body and mind to ensure your condition will never recur.
During your initial assessment, our Team will evaluate the severity of your condition to create a Plan specific to your body, lifestyle and needs. At Club Health, we follow a number of different methods to treat conditions like the Hallux Valgus, and hold surgery referrals as a last resort.
In fact, our Team advocates for the prevention of surgeries in these cases. Our Practitioners have seen excellent long-lasting success rates through the signature Club Health Treatments, whereas certain types of surgery have proved to be just a temporary solution. The reason behind this is simple. When undergoing operation, the Patient is receiving a fix for the conditions’ outcome, not its cause. The bunion is fixed on the surface, but your mind and body are still functioning in the same way, following the same movement patterns, which will lead to the regeneration of the bunion after several years.
That’s exactly why at our Clinic we target both the physical and mental aspects through our Treatments Plans. This gives us the space to change the Patient’s habits, and as a result build a body that cures their weaknesses.
Following the diagnosis from your assessment, our Team of experts will tailor your Plan of Care to match your conditions and goals. This could include any of the following Treatments:
- Physiotherapy & Manual Therapy to relieve pain, realign your body, and rewire your brain, by teaching you how to move and how to use your body correctly throughout the day;
- Massage Therapy to enhance blood circulation, manipulate the soft tissue for quicker recovery, release tight muscles and tendons and decrease pain and discomfort;
- Rehab and Mobility Training to mould your muscles, joints and bones to allow the right range of movement, and achieve excellent posture and build a healthy, strong body;
- Clinical Pilates to connect the body and mind on a deeper level, through coordination and control;
- High Power Laser Therapy to fight inflammation, speed up recovery and regenerate tissue in the affected area;
- Supportive Orthotics, custom made and 3D printed for higher accuracy, to offload the forefront of the foot and improve your overall posture;
- Home training prescribed by our Team of Practitioners to boost your physical and mental stability, strengthen your muscles and ensure the continuity of your Treatment Plan;
- Nutritional Guidance & Supplementation to decrease inflammation and boost your overall health, to operate efficiently and effectively on every level.
Our Team’s goal is to help you perform at 100% of your potential. This way, we will be able to prevent the condition if your DNA is what you are up against, or cure it before the “point of no return”.
LET OUR TEAM TAKE YOUR PAIN AWAY & ELEVATE YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE
At our Clinic, we have successfully treated bunions of various stages and on people of different backgrounds. From girls in their early teens who developed bunions due to heredity, to women who developed the condition in their 40’s, due to the wrong footwear. Our most commonly treated cases are of women aged 50+ whose condition takes a rapid growth following weight imbalances and hormonal changes.
As a little takeaway, here are 5 tips you can adopt to relieve pain and enhance joint alignment:
- Use a toe stretcher or splint to teach your toes the correct positioning. Use it for a few hours per day, the longer the better;
- Lengthen your hip flexors (psoas and TFL muscles). With these muscles being more supple and moving in full ranges of motion, proper walking patterns can be better executed, exercise routines more effective and overall more body control;
- Strengthen your glutes. Strong glutes will hold your hips into the correct position, removing weight from the forefront of your foot and helping you control your body when sitting, bending, walking and carrying, or lifting things;
- Avoid narrow footwear and high heels when possible. When you can’t avoid them, make sure you are aware of the correct gait patterns taught and use a splint/toe stretcher afterwards to reverse the impact;
- Ice the inflamed area and add turmeric to your nutrition. This will influence inflammation reduction and help with better pain management.
Although a fairly common condition, bunion formation is one of the most debated deformities between different medical practises. The many layers of fine details involved, both in its development and in its treatment, should be making diagnosis and long-term Treatment planning a priority. Instead, its complexity is ignored, giving way to shortsighted, painful and temporary fixes. We are on a mission to change this, and help you avoid surgery at all costs.
If you have any unanswered questions, or would like to book your Initial Consultation, our Team is always ready to guide you! Just click on the Live Chat button, or fill in the Contact Form below, and one of us will get back to you within the day.
We look forward to seeing you in one of our Clinics in London, and becoming part of your journey.