What can I do about bunions?

Bunions are hard, bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of the big toe. They form when the pressure of weight bearing falls unevenly on the joints in your feet. The imbalance makes the big toe joint unstable, the big toe pushes up against the other toes, forcing the joint in the opposite direction, away from the normal profile of the foot. Over time, the abnormal position enlarges the joint, further crowding with the toes. By pushing your big toe inward, a bunion can squeeze your other toes into a claw-like shape known as hammertoe.
Studies of cultures that don’t wear shoes have shown that these people do not get bunions, so it can be assumed that wearing improperly fitted footwear will lead to bunions. However, some people can get away with wearing outrageous footwear until a ripe old age with no ill effects, while others start to see bunions forming with little provocation. There is definitely a genetic predisposition for some people, including flat feet, excessively flexible ligaments, abnormal bone structure, arthritis and certain neurological conditions. If you fall into one of these categories, and also wear improperly fitting shoes, you will likely get bunions.

Signs and symptoms of a bunion include a bulging bump on the outside of the base of the big toe and swelling, and redness around the joint. This leads to soreness, restricted movement of the big toe and difficulty finding shoes that fit comfortably.
The only cure for a bunion is to have it surgically removed – a process that can involve a long recovery period of up to eight weeks. Conservative treatments are recommended before you go the surgical route. These include wearing roomy shoes that provide plenty of space for the toes, padding and taping the foot to keep it in a normal position to reduce stress on the bunion and alleviate pain, pain medications and cortisone injections to manage pain, padded shoe inserts to help distribute pressure evenly to keep the bunion from getting worse. If over-the-counter padded inserts and arch supports don’t provide relief, custom made prescription orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist are an option.

At Le Jardin de mes Pieds, we specialize in wide widths and European footwear made especially to accommodate bunions, such as shoes and sandals from PortoFino and Hallux. We can also scan your feet to identify pressure points and recommend a high tech Lynco insole made by Aetrex, an American firm founded by a group of podiatrists, doctors and footcare specialists. The Lynco insole is really the best non-custom orthotic on the market today. We are also affiliated with a technical expert who makes orthotics who can evaluate your footcare needs. Call us to make an appointment for a free consultation with Francois.

Image courtesy of Serum International In – Canadian distributor of Birkenstocks
Photo caption: Improperly fitted shoes squeeze and deform feet

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