Chiropractic Care for Bunions

A bunion is a bony protrusion of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe. Once fully developed there is redness, inflammation, and stiffness that restricts motion of the big toe. The Latin name for this deformity is hallux valgus (hallux means big toe, and valgus means turned away from the mid-line of the body).

Narrow shoes force toes into an unnatural position altering the normal structure of the MTP joint, the result is a bunion. This deformity gradually increases and can interfere in the ability to walk pain-free. Incorrect footwear places constant pressure on the bursa (a fluid-filled sac that cushions this joint) forcing it to become inflamed. Although anyone can get a bunion, they are more common in women.

Narrow shoes are not the only culprit to the causes of bunions. Wearing shoes with any of these features can cause a bunion to form:

  • Tight fitting or pointy toe box.
  • Higher heel than the ball of the foot.
  • Backless shoes that do not hold the heel (flip flops, clogs, etc.).

In addition a weak foot tripod due to muscle weakness, joint alignment or flexibility issues can contribute to bunion growth.

Bunion Progression

Bunions start out small yet if the individual continues to wear the footwear that interferes with normal toe positioning, they will get worse. The MTP joint flexes with every step; therefore, the bigger the bunion gets, the more painful and difficult walking becomes.

An advanced bunion alters the appearance of the foot. In severe bunions, the big toe may angle all the way under or over the second toe. This pressure can force the second toe out of alignment, causing more problems. Calluses may develop where the toes rub against each other, causing additional discomfort and difficulty walking.

Foot Problems Related to Bunion Growth

In some cases, an enlarged MTP joint may lead to bursitis. It may also lead to chronic pain and arthritis if the smooth articular cartilage that covers the joint becomes damaged from the joint not gliding smoothly.

Bunions can cause hammertoes. Hammertoe is a contractual deformity of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth or fifth toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, causing problems to develop.

A bunion below the little toe or pain in the balls of the foot can also develop as a result of an MTP joint bunion.

Osteoarthritis may develop, and bone spurs can form. Osteoarthritis may cause joint scarring, limiting the foot’s range of motion. Occasionally, gout can cause sudden attacks in which the bunion becomes red, painful, and swollen.

Treatment Options

In most cases, bunions are treated without surgery. Chiropractic care along with the following suggestions can help reduce or eliminate pain caused by bunions. Severe bunions can alter how you walk creating further issues in which a chiropractor can evaluate and assist in correcting.

Changes in Footwear

In the vast majority of cases, bunion pain can be managed successfully by wearing shoes that fit properly, do not compress the toes, or shift body weight onto the ball of the foot.


Protective bunion-shield pads can help cushion the painful area over the bunion. Pads can be purchased at a pharmacy. Test the pads for a short period of time first; the size of the pad may increase the pressure which may worsen pain rather than reduce it.

Orthotics and Other Devices

To take pressure off a bunion, over-the-counter or custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics) are beneficial. Also, toe spacers can be placed between your toes. In severe cases, a splint worn at night may help to place the big toe in a straighter position possibly relieving pain. It is best to seek the advice of a qualified health professional for orthotics because the wrong product could make matters worse.


Applying ice several times a day for twenty minutes at a time can help reduce swelling. Never apply ice directly on the skin.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Before taking any medication please consult your physician or pharmacist. It is not advisable to take these on a regular basis as they have side effects:

  • increased risk of serious cardiovascular thrombotic events,
  • heart attack,
  • stroke,
  • upset stomach,
  • nausea,
  • gastrointestinal problems, and more.


Movement in the MTP joint area is important so exercises specific to the foot can help. It is best to have a qualified health professional help you develop an exercise program designed to your needs. Some individuals may have a multitude of foot issues which means some exercises can create further problems.

Chiropractic Care

Any individual who suffers with pain as a result of a bunion, or is developing a bunion, should seek out chiropractic care. There may be more issues than just the MTP joint; therefore, a proper examination is needed in order to successfully work on solutions.

If you have a bunion, regardless of whether it is causing you pain or not, then a qualified health professional at Chiro-Med can help.

Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over a decade. Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has qualified professionals who can help you seek relief from migraine pain. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.

February 25, 2020

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