Raise your hand if you have a bunion. Come on, don't be shy.
If you could look around at everyone else out there in cyberspace reading this blog, you might be surprised by what you see. By some estimates, more than half of adult American women over 40 should have their hands in the air here. You might even see some men, too. (About 10% of bunion sufferers are male.)
Unfortunately, we can't choose our genetics, and that means we can't always stop bunions from happening. The main cause of this deformity is feet that are fundamentally; structurally unstable due to things like low arches, loose joints, or metatarsal bones that are overly rounded at their ends.
In other words? If mom and/or dad had a bunion, your odds aren't looking great.
But that's not the whole story.
Even if your genes have it in for you as far as bunions are concerned, remember that we're all a mix of what we're born with and how we use it.
You might not be able to completely prevent a bunion, but your actions can delay it from coming, or slow down its progression. And of course, the reverse is true—if you make unwise choices, your bunion is going to kick into overdrive.
So, here's the million-dollar question. How are you making your bunions worse?
You wear heels every day
Or maybe not every day. But a lot.
Sure, you might like the way those stiletto pumps make your legs look. But your body must go through a lot of uncomfortable contortions, weight shifts, and pressure to produce that effect, and the front of your feet are squarely in the crossfire.
Under ideal circumstances, your heel takes the initial impact. Then, as your full foot makes contact with the ground, the arch flexes to spread out the force over as much time and area as possible. With high heels, though, all the weight gets slammed on the ball of the foot, like a truck hitting a brick wall.
If your foot structure is already susceptible to bunions, then wearing high heels is basically like hitting fast forward on the destabilization process.
Now, we know that not all of you are going to swear off heels forever, so we have some pointers for you on how to wear them ... if you must:
- Wear your heels only for special, fancy occasions—not every day
- Keep the heel height relatively low—two inches or fewer
- The chunkier, the better. Your foot will get much better support on a wedge than on a pike.
You wear flats every day
Here at Absolute Foot Care Specialists, we reject all forms of extremism! Ballet flats might be the "opposite" of high heels, but when it comes to bunion development they're nearly as bad.
Typical flats have many unfortunate characteristics that make them ill-suited for bunions. For starters, those ultra-thin soles offer almost no cushioning for the front of the foot, forcing the big toe to once again take the brunt of the weight. There's also nothing in the way of arch support, either.
Fortunately, you can modify a pair of flats with inserts or custom orthotics much more easily than a pair of high heels. We can help you find something that you can use to give your feet the support and cushioning it needs.
Your shoes are just plain too tight
Sorry to keep harping on your shoes, but this is important!
If you've read this far, you already should have a decent idea of what the ideal shoe to minimize bunion development should look like. Comfy, cushioned, good arch support, slightly raised heel. All good attributes. But we aren't done!
Shoes that are too tight in the toe area can press toes together and slowly push the big toe joint slowly out of alignment. Many women's dress shoes are notorious for this; even if the heels are low, the front of the shoe may still be pointed and hard. However, you can also get the "right" shoe ... but just plain buy the wrong size.
Whenever you go shopping, make sure you measure each of your feet—yes, both feet, and yes, each time. Go at the end of the day, when your feet are slightly swollen. Wear the same type of socks you'll plan to wear with your new shoes. If your feet measure at different sizes, pick the larger one.
You subject your feet to other repetitive stresses
Ever met a ballet dancer without a bunion? Okay, chances are you probably don't know any ballet dancers. But if you did, you'd know that foot problems in general—and bunions in particular—are very common among them.
But it's not just ballet dancers. Nurses, teachers, plumbers, athletes—if your job or hobbies feature a lot of standing, walking, crouching, running, or jumping, those repetitive stresses can accelerate bunion progress even further. Even pregnancy can be a trigger, since not only are you carrying more weight, but hormonal changes can make your joints looser, too.
Keep in mind, we're not asking you to quit your job or abandon what you love! Just know that, in these circumstances, it's doubly important to support your feet with footwear and/or orthotics that can keep up with higher physical demands. If you're a "super user," you need better hardware—it's just a fact.
Don't let a little bump turn into the bunion from hell
So many times, we see older men and women finally visit our office after year—no, decades—of watching their bunions slowly get worse and worse. They don't seek help until the pain is so intense that they can barely get a sneaker on.
Don't be that person!
(I mean, if you're already that person, absolutely see us as soon as possible. But you should have seen us years ago!)
The earlier you seek help for your bunion, the better you can control its progression, manage your symptoms, and keep your treatment options open as wide as possible.
Please give our Las Vegas podiatry office a call today at (702) 839-2010 for more information or to schedule an appointment.