It's a common problem. A patient comes into my office complaining of bunion pain. More often than not that patient is a woman with a history of flat feet who has worn problematic shoes. While the tendency to develop bunions is inherited--wearing high heels, shoes that are too tight, and shoes with a narrow toe box can all contribute to progression of bunions.
But what if you have bunions and you don't have pain. Does that mean you shouldn't get them treated? When it comes to bunions, the old adage an "ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" rings true.
Instead of asking yourself, should I get them treated? Instead, ask yourself "If I knew treating my bunions would prevent pain in the future, would I get them treated?"
While only you can answer that question for yourself, as your podiatrist it's important for me to let you know that bunions are progressive. The likelihood of them becoming worse and causing pain is great. Fortunately there are a lot of conservative measures you can take to help them stay the same and remain pain-free.
Avoid High Heels
The easiest strategy for decreasing the chance of progression is to avoid the things that cause it. Namely, bad shoes. One of the biggest culprits is wearing high heels (any shoes over one inch in height). When your heels are too high, too much pressure is placed on the ball of the foot. Over time that extra pressure will cause the bunion to worsen.
I know this is bad news for those of you who are fashion conscious. But you have to ask yourself whether the glamour is worth the future pain.
Fortunately many other people have thought about how to get around the fashion issue. Check out my blog "Desperately Seeking Stylish Shoes Without Bunion Pain."
Avoid Narrow Toe Box and Tight Shoes
A narrow toe box will also put pressure on the front of the foot, accelerating the rate of bunion progression. Purchase shoes with a wider toe box. In addition, be sure to have your feet measured each time you buy shoes. As we get older our feet tend to get longer. Wearing shoes that are too tight can also be problematic for those prone to bunions.
Get Casted for Orthotics
The biggest reason people develop bunions in the first place is faulty foot structure. Flat feet are the number one culprit, but a tendency to pronate, neuromuscular problems, and foot injuries can also lead to bunions. The best way to rein in feet that are flat and pronate are by getting cast for orthotics. Custom orthotics will stabilize the toe joint and prevent your bunions from getting worse.
I also recommend orthotics for patients who have flat feet but haven't developed bunions. That's because orthotics keep the feet aligned and prevent the big toe joint from moving out of place and causing the bunion. This is not only true for adults, but also for children. Kids who don't outgrow their flat feet will have them for the rest of their life. And with flat feet comes the tendency for bunions. Instead of using custom orthotics for young children, I treat then with a specially designed product for kids called Little Steps®. These prefabricated orthotics come in incremental sizes and are more affordable than a traditional, custom orthotic.
Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.