Bunions and Deformities


The technical name for bunions is Hallux Valgus and it describes the symptoms where the toe is not correctly aligned. Initially it tends to start with the big toe, but it can also progress to other toes. The toe is bent out of its normal straight alignment and curves towards the other toes, causing the joint to swell and become painful. This is sometimes a genetic problem, but in this day and age, is all too often caused by badly fitting shoes where the toes are forced into the wrong shape and eventually set in this position. Pressure then builds up as the toes are squashed together, which may result in further problems, such as corns.

There is little you can do yourself to treat a bunion, but if the cause was badly fitting shoes, you should immediately start wearing footwear that allows the toes to regain the natural shape.

Proper treatment of the bunion can be performed by your chiropodist, who will have several methods available and will be able to advise on the correct treatment for your individual case. Treatments can range from pads or shields to relieve pressure or special inner soles for your shoes, right through to recommending surgery in severe cases.

Hammer Toes

The symptoms of this condition are that the toe permanently is bent upwards at the joint and cannot be straightened. Sometimes caused by a muscular problem at birth which leads to the condition, but is again all too commonly caused by the wearing of badly fitting shoes which don't give the toe room to straighten out correctly. As the toe is misshaped, pressure normally builds up where the joint now rubs against the shoe which in turn can cause further problems such as corns.

Once again, the condition can often be avoided by always wearing correctly fitting shoes which don't constrain the feet. Should you already have Hammer Toes, then some relief can be gained by the wearing of correct shoes.

Actual treatment can be performed by your chiropodist, who can stabilise the toe with methods such as strapping, provide individually formed insoles for your shoes, or in severe cases may recommend surgery to cure the condition.

Hallux Rigidus

Another deformity, where a lump forms on the joint of a toe causing it to stiffen up. This then causes problems with walking as the toe is unable to bend, and is often accompanied with pain in the affected toe when exercising of any sort, including walking. Often caused by stubbing your toe or through sporting injuries, but it can also be caused by continuous tapping to the end of the toe from shoes that are either too tight or, especially in the case of women, from wearing slip-on shoes.

To avoid this painful condition, you should avoid wearing high heels for prolonged periods and avoid tight shoes. Attempt to avoid accidents by wearing steel capped shoes where working conditions recommend their use. Some relief may be gained by wearing low heels with firm soles which will support the foot. Your chiropodist can cure the condition with similar treatments to Hammer Toes, by the use of stabilising techniques like strapping, inner soles or may even recommend surgery where necessary.

Retracted Toes

This condition occurs in new born babies, where the toes are retracted or curled up. If the feet are not constricted by tight socks and/or shoes, the condition will often disappear naturally. In those case where it does not, your chiropodist can suggest strengthening exercises. Silicon inner soles can also be prescribed to cure the condition.

Some tips on shoes can be found here.