Hallux valgus, also known as bunion, is a common problem affecting the big toe.
We take a look at this condition and explain how manual osteopathy can ease discomfort.
What exactly is hallux valgus?
Hallux valgus, more usually referred to as bunion, is a common foot complaint that affects women more than men (1).
Bunions appear as a bony lump near the bottom of the big toe. This is caused by the bones of the first metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) becoming misaligned and the big toe leaning in towards the second toe.
The resulting bony lump may be painful to touch or when walking, and the other toes of the affected foot may become cramped and feel uncomfortable.
- You may notice other symptoms such as:
- Sore skin on the side of your big toe
- Calluses on the big or second toe
- Foot pain
- Loss of mobility in your big toe
- Your shoes no longer fitting comfortably
What causes hallux valgus?
Hallux valgus is believed to be genetic and linked to a problem with the bone structure in your foot.
There are also some factors that make you more at risk of developing hallux valgus, including:
- Flat feet
- Flexible ligaments (which can occur during pregnancy)
- Wearing shoes that are too tight
- Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy
Working in a profession that puts a lot of stress on the feet (for example, as a ballet dancer)
What’s the treatment for hallux valgus?
If you suspect you have hallux valgus, consult your doctor or podiatrist (foot doctor), who can give you a proper diagnosis.
- They will be able to guide you through the treatment options, which include:
- Surgery to remove bone and swollen tissue (a bunionectomy)
- Muscle strengthening exercises
- Wearing comfortable shoes with padded soles
- Wearing arch supports in your shoes
- Taping your foot into a more normal position
- Taking over-the-counter pain relief
Can osteopathy help with bunions?
Another natural and non-invasive therapy to help with the discomfort of bunions is manual osteopathy.
Your manual osteopath will use a range of gentle physical manipulation treatments to ease the pain that bunions can bring.
They may also use additional therapies to trigger the body’s own healing responses, such as laser therapy that stimulates tissue healing and reduces inflammation, and they can suggest strengthening exercises too.
Manual osteopathy can also offer relief for arthritis affecting the toes and feet, which can be linked to bunions — ask your osteopath for details!
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Approved by Indira Ravaeva. Manual Osteopath. Member of National Manual Osteopathic Society and Osteopathy Australia.
- 1. Nix, S., Smith, M., & Vicenzino, B. ‘Prevalence of hallux valgus in the general population: a systematic review and meta-analysis.’ Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 3:21. Published online on September 27, 2010. https://doi.org/10.1186%2F1757-1146-3-21
Other references used but not quoted in the article
- Forbes Health website, ‘What Are Bunions? Symptoms, Causes, Treatments And More,’ March 9, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/health/body/bunions/
- Healthline website, ‘Bunions,’ June 12, 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/bunions
- Cleveland Clinic website, ‘Bunion Correction Surgery,’ April 16, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/15383-bunion-correction-surgery