Do you love having a pedicure and slipping into sandals when the warmer weather comes round or do you dread showing your lumpy, bumpy and dried out feet to the world? A survey conducted by OnePoll found that in the UK, almost half of women prefer to keep their feet covered up during the summer, despite the discomfort and outfit matching problems that doing so can cause. One of the main factors driving women to keep their feet under wraps is a bunion, but what are they, are they a problem you need to tackle and what can you do to treat them? Let’s take a look.
What are bunions?
A bunion presents as a hard lump or bumps at the base of the big toe, it’s a joint deformity whereby the big toe points upwards or towards your other toes and the bone at the bottom of the foot pronates. Sounds painful, doesn’t it? The skin on the lump can become red and sore because standard shoes are designed to fit feet without these bumps and you may feel pain across the bottom of your feet as you walk too. Bunions may also be referred to as a hallux valgus. They are one of the most common foot deformities and are often accompanied by functional issues as well as severe pain. In short, if you think you have one or more bunions developing, they’re not something you should ignore.
Who gets bunions?
Poorly fitted shoes, footwear with inadequate arch support and squeezing feet into awkwardly shaped shoes are all major causes of bunions. If you’re a fan of tight fitting shoes or high heels, chances are they’re the cause of the bunion symptoms you’re experiencing, though it’s not known why some people get bunions and others don’t. If you think you’re one of the unlucky individuals who is joining the millions of others who suffer from bunions, you may be surprised to learn you’re in pretty good company. Model Elle Macpherson, fashion designer Victoria Beckham and Meghan Markle the Duchess of Sussex and Kate Middleton the Duchess of Cambridge are all reported to suffer from bunions. So, you could say you’re in an elite group! Research shows that you’re more likely to get bunions as you get older and that women are more likely to develop the condition. In fact, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall (the wife of Prince Charles) is said to wear special footwear to provide comfort for her bunion afflicted feet.
How to prevent bunions from getting worse
Because bunions are a joint deformity, the only way to fix a bunion is to have corrective surgery. It’s wise to wear suitable footwear and you can certainly try bunion pads to see if they ease your discomfort but if you’re wondering do bunion correctors work the experts suggest that at best products such as splints may slow progression of bunions, without actually correcting or fixing the problem. In the first instance, you may want to take a leaf out of the Duchess of Cornwall’s book and assess the suitability of your footwear. Are your shoes wide enough? Do they provide adequate support? And finally, even if you’re a lifelong devotee of designer high heels, now’s the time to switch to something lower and less likely to crumple your foot up into a painful shape! It’s also worth bearing in mind that podiatrists recommend sizing up slightly in summer shoe styles as feet are likely to swell in the heat.
When bunions require surgery
If despite your best efforts to correct poor footwear choices and provide your feet with much needed TLC you find that your bunions get worse and you can’t endure the pain, there are surgery options available. Traditional bunion surgery can keep you off your feet for months and is often cited as one of the most painful surgeries to go through. Thankfully, technological advances in recent years mean that many surgeons now offer a non-invasive surgery option which can be performed under local anaesthetic and without the need for screws, wires and plates. Recovery is far faster than with traditional surgery, though patients may still be prevented from driving for a couple of weeks and may want to take things a little easier in general for a while. And of course, it goes without saying that anyone who does undergo bunion surgery should commit to making sensible footwear choices in the future.
So, if you’re fast coming to the conclusion that you don’t want to live another summer with your feet hidden away, the possibility of surgical intervention is something you may want to give some serious thought to.