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Bunions & Bunionectomy: Condition Impact & Treatment

A bunion is a bony abnormality that develops on the inside of the foot at the base of the big toe. Pain, stiffness, swelling and difficulty walking can develop as the bony prominence becomes more pronounced. Over time, this can result in changes with your gait pattern, changes with balance and a reduction in quality of life.

There are many reasons for the development of a bunion including heredity, foot posture and control, laxity in ligaments and joints, and arthritis. Foot wear has also been considered as a factor for development of a bunion; however, there is conflicting evidence that this is a cause. Tight shoes can cause irritation on your bunion due to rubbing of your shoe on an already irritated surface.

As a bunion worsens, you may follow up with your PCP or a podiatrist. Your physician may recommend a surgical correction of your bunion known as a bunionectomy.

Physical therapy can help pre- and post-surgery, depending on how far your bunion has progressed. Pre surgical physical therapy will focus on:

•Restoring mobility throughout the foot, ankle and toes

•Reviewing the best shoe wear to limit irritation

•Patient education on improving movement patterns to focus on pain reduction

•Pain management techniques such as using ice

•Strengthening of the involved lower extremity

•Recommending assistive devices (canes) or orthotics as needed

If surgery is performed, you may want to seek a physical therapist to aid in your recovery. After surgery, your physician will place you in a special shoe or boot to limit irritation at your surgical site as well as reduce pressure on the toe during weight bearing. In addition to the treatments described above, your therapist may also perform gentle massage to help with desensitization and scar tissue mobility. They will also review normalizing your gait pattern now that your toe position is straighter.

If you have a bunion that is bothering you or you know of someone who is experiencing pain from this problem, be sure to seek or encourage medical attention.

If physical therapy is needed, please keep us in mind. We've worked with many patients over the past several decades who are preparing for or recovering from bunionectomies. We have a clear understanding of how to help our patients heal and recover their mobility.


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