Bunions, Corns and Calluses
Your big toe has started to angle towards your other toes and you are noticing a bony bump on the inside of your big toe joint that is easily irritated by footwear.
Poor fitting footwear or footwear that is too tight is the most common cause of bunions especially if worn from a young age. However another contributing factor is poor or abnormal foot function such as pronation. This abnormal function can cause pressure on joint during walking and can eventually lead to instability in the joint causing the inward angle of the big toe and the bump on the inside of the joint – a bunion. Bunions are not inherited, but they do tend to run in families.
Once a bunion has formed surgery can be required to remove it. However, your podiatrist can advise you on the conservative treatment options available to relieve pressure on the bunion and slow the progression of the joint deformity. These options may include padding to relieve pressure on the bunion, joint mobilisations to increase movement of the joint, foot wear advice and Formthotics™ to aid foot alignment and function. Formthotics™ can help, especially if foot pronation is a factor. Over pronation means that there is excessive pressure on the big toe joint where bunions form, this can worsen the joint deformity and cause a lot of pain in the area. Offloading the area by controlling pronation will provide a lot of relief.
Corns and Callus
Calluses are a build up of hard skin and generally are not painful. If a corn is present under this hard skin there will be pain on pressure and generally a small core will be visible.
Corns and calluses are among the most common foot complaints. They are caused by abnormal pressure or friction often from poor fitting footwear or abnormal foot function. When there are excessive stresses to an area of the foot your body’s natural response is to build up a hard layer of skin to protect the underlying tissues. Problems occur when the pressure continues and the skin gets thicker and thicker to protect itself, the area can eventually become painful.
A callus generally refers to a flat more diffuse build-up of hard skin and may or may not hurt depending on its thickness. A corn is a thicker more focal area with a central core which usually forms over a bony prominence such as a joint. When there is pressure on a corn they are almost always painful.
Common causes of corns and callus include; footwear that is poorly fitted i.e. too tight, toe deformities such as clawed toes, bony prominences and gait (walking) abnormalities.
Be wary of over the counter remedies such as corn plasters. These contain acid that help to 'eat away' the corn however, the acid cannot tell the difference between a corn and normal skin and it will eat away whatever you put it on. Use of these types of remedies can be very dangerous and risky in those with poor circulation and/or diabetes and is not recommended.
Do not try to cut away corns and calluses yourself. They can be removed safely and painlessly by your podiatrist with immediate relief. Your podiatrist can also advise you how to best prevent new corns and calluses forming which may include some or all of the following options:
- Regular maintenance to keep the corn and calluses reduced
- Use of padding to prevent the pressure
- Advice about correct fitting of footwear
- The use of Formthotics™ to relieve the pressure under the foot and provide correct foot alignment.