When I see a patient on my roster who is coming in for bunions, most often they are women with flat feet. Women who also wear high heels are at the highest risk for accelerated bunion development. That's because of the added pressure heels place on the forefoot.
People with flat feet are very likely to pronate or roll their feet inwards as they walk. Over time this motion causes the big toe to migrate towards the other toes and as it migrates a bunion develops next to the inside of the big toe.
The key to preventing bunions from forming is to stop the pronation from occurring. And the earlier the better.
Treatments for Bunions
Surgery is usually the last thing I talk about with my patients who have bunions. Instead I start with less invasive, more conservative treatments such as padding, orthotic devices, and education about the best type of shoes to prevent the progression of bunions.
When Should Treatment Start?
Treatment for bunions should start as soon as a parent suspects their child has pediatric or developmental flatfoot. That's because at this stage, treatment is preventive. Intervening in the way a child walks once this condition is identified will not only help prevent future bunions from developing but also plantar fasciitis and other pain conditions related to having flat feet. Hip and back problems can also be averted by preventive therapy.
All children are born with flat feet. An arch doesn't usually develop until a child is four or five years old. If your child still has flat feet beyond age six they will have them and the problems that come with them for the rest of their life.
Others signs that your child may have future foot problems such as bunions are pain, frequent trips and falls, withdrawal from activities they usually enjoy, and having trouble keeping up with their peers.
At the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City we also treat children at risk for bunions using very conservative measures. For very young children we use specially designed orthotics for kids called Little Steps. For older kids we'll use a custom orthotic just like we do for adults.
What Else Can I Do To Prevent Progression of My Bunions?
If you already have bunions but they aren't advanced, there is a lot you can do to prevent them from progressing. In addition to orthotics, changing your shoe type will go a long way in slowing their acceleration. There are multiple brands of shoes that can help greatly in accommodating your bunions so that you won't have much pain.
However, it's extremely important to keep certain shoe features in mind when you go shopping if your ultimate goal is to prevent your bunions from worsening. Look for a shoe with a heel no higher than one inch, a toe box wide enough to accommodate your feet so that there is no pressure on your forefoot or toes, and a shoe that is not too tight.
Although orthotics can be made to fit any shoe, to keep down your costs you should shop for a shoe that will take the orthotics you already have. One shoe I recommend to my patients is the Alegria Kourtney. It easily accommodates an orthotic and has plenty of room in the toes.
If you've already been treated for bunions and they've progressed to the point where you think surgery is in your future, check out the information on our bunion surgery page.
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.
Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.