A bunion is a hard, bony bump that develops at the base of the big toe. As bunion sufferers will know, they can cause considerable discomfort. Less well-known is the fact that they can lead to secondary foot problems like arthritis or hammertoes.
Whether they developed owing to hereditary factors or wearing poorly-fitting shoes, those who have bunions will have sought help when they begin to experience significant pain.
Foot orthotics, foot supports that are worn inside the shoes, are commonly recommended as a way to ease discomfort and prevent bunions from getting worse. But Mark Lin, Principal Sports Podiatrist and Director of The Footwork Clinic in Sydney’s CBD and Chatswood says they may not be the best solution.
The Problem With Orthotics
Orthotics certainly can help people with bunions, but they aren’t a cure. It’s a common misconception, says Lin. “People feel better when wearing orthotics, and as a result, they may think that their bunions will improve over time, but the orthotics aren’t addressing the problem itself. To do so, we need to work on joint alignment, improving foot strength, and improving movement.”
And there’s the most obvious problem of all: you can’t wear orthotics all the time. While you’re wearing your orthotics, they help to take the strain off your feet and legs. Movement becomes easier. But the minute you take off your shoes, you don’t have orthotics to help you, and you’re back where you started. Orthotics don’t actually correct bunions. They only provide relief.
While this may seem acceptable on the surface, our feet, along with the rest of our bodies, deteriorate as years go by. In time, we may become unable to enjoy simple pleasures like walking barefoot on the beach. In effect, we become dependent on our orthotics losing, as Mark Lin terms it, “the freedom of our feet.”
Functional Foot Solutions for Bunions
Since bunions are the result of poor foot function, functional rehabilitation is the key to effective treatment that goes beyond symptomatic relief. Podiatry techniques can help, says Lin. “It’s possible to reduce bunions and address the toe misalignment that caused them. And, because we’re dealing with the causes of bunions, pain management becomes easier. Most importantly, we can prevent bunions from becoming worse over time.”
But, Lin explains, the benefits go beyond bunions. “Because we’re addressing functional problems in the feet and legs, we also prevent the secondary problems, such as arthritis, that are associated with bunions. Podiatric treatment of bunions means a brighter future for your feet with reduced chances of developing other painful foot-related problems.”
Bunions: The High Road to Foot Health
Our conversation with Mark Lin makes a few little-known facts about bunions abundantly clear.
Bunions are a symptom of a much deeper problem with the feet that will not improve without therapy. In the absence of intervention, Bunions may be only the first of the foot problems they can cause.
While orthotics can offer relief, they won’t address the real problem. Professional help and corrective therapy are needed to treat the underlying causes of bunions, and in doing so, we will improve our mobility, personal freedom, and quality of life, both now and in our golden years.
For further information, visit the The Footwork Clinic – Leading Sports, Podiatry, Foot And Lower Limb Corrective Services to book online, or call Mark Lin or his friendly team on +61 2 9131 6891.
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The information contained in this guide is provided in good faith and is not intended to be nor is it to be used as a substitute for any sort of professional, medical or podiatric advice. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a podiatrist. Any users should always seek the advice of their podiatrist, or other qualified healthcare providers before commencing any treatment.