When it comes to relieving the pain and inflammation associated with a bunion – a bone and soft tissue deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe – chiropractic treatment may help. Chiropractic treatment of bunions offers conservative therapies that can help avoid or delay surgical intervention.
Treatment Modalities a Chiropractor May Use for Bunion Care
The goal of chiropractic bunion treatment is not to heal a bunion but to ease symptoms, including pain, swelling around the toe joint, and impaired toe movement, by relieving pressure on the toe joint. Early chiropractic intervention for a less severe bunion often sees favorable results in reducing pain and discomfort. Although chiropractic treatment in general usually focuses on spinal manipulation, some chiropractors also use other treatment modalities, including heat and cold therapies, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound.
Warm hydrotherapy foot baths to relieve pain. The warm water helps relax muscles and increase blood flow to the area. Heat stimulates the body to release endorphins, which block pain signals coming from the body's nerves, preventing them from getting to the brain.
Pulsed ultrasound to reduce joint inflammation. Inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the big toe joint can cause it to swell and become painful. The deep heat created by the sound waves the ultrasound produces helps decrease pain and increase blood circulation when applied to soft tissues and joints. Your chiropractor may use ultrasound prior to exercise or performing hands-on soft tissue manipulation to relax the foot and toe muscles.
Stretching exercises to treat sore toe joints and keep the big toe joint flexible. Your chiropractor may show you how to use a strap to gently stretch the big toe away from the toe next to it. He or she will then watch you to make certain that you do the stretch properly. Hold the stretch for a few seconds and then repeat.
Another way to stretch your big toe is to use your fingers to pull it into the proper position. Hold the toe in that position for about 10 seconds, relax, and then repeat the hold several times.
Foot exercises to help relieve bunion symptoms. Although foot exercises won't correct a bunion deformity, they can strengthen the muscles that enable movement of the big toe and may help slow the progression of a bunion.
A chiropractor can instruct you on resistance exercises you can do for your big toe. One exercise involves wrapping a strap or thin belt around your big toe and then pulling the toe toward you. At the same time you are pulling, push your toe forward against the strap.
Manual manipulation to improve the flexibility of soft tissue contracture that often occurs with a bunion. Contractures, which can develop in any joint in the body, cause the shortening or thickening of soft tissue that can lead to deformity and the loss of joint range of motion – either of which restricts movement or causes pain on movement. Chiropractic manipulation of the big toe won't change the bunion deformity, but manipulating stiff foot and ankle joints increases range of motion in the joints, which can help reduce bunion pain.
For more information, contact Citrus Chiropractic Group or a similar organization.