020723_1613_0094_lslpBy Annette Pinder

Most women love beautiful shoes. Some even sacrifice comfort for that perfect pair of high-heeled pointy-toed shoes matching their favorite outfit. However, wearing narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes often becomes increasingly painful and nearly impossible if a bunion deformity is present.

Hallux valgus (bunion) is defined as a structural deformity where the big toe points toward the second toe with a boney enlargement just behind the toe. According to David M. Davidson, DPM of Buffalo’s Podiatry Affiliates, “Bunions occur more commonly in women and, in most cases, are hereditary. People born with abnormal gait are more likely to develop a bunion. And they may become painful as extra bone and a fluid-filled sac develops at the base of the big toe.”

Symptoms associated with the development of a bunion can include:
•Red, calloused skin along the edge of the big toe
•A bony bump at the site
•Pain over the joint, which can become aggravated by pressure from shoes
•The big toe turning toward the other toes.

So what do you do if you are developing a bunion? Dr. Davidson says, “When a bunion first begins to develop, it’s important to care for your feet by wearing more sensible shoes.” He also recommends wearing felt or foam pads on the foot to protect the bunion, or devices called spacers to separate the first and second toes. These are available at most drugstores. If there is a family history of this deformity and a child shows signs of developing a bunion, taking them to a podiatrist to evaluate their gait is an excellent suggestion. Improving biomechanics with a custom orthotic often slows down the progression of a bunion.
If the bunion gets worse — resulting in severe deformity or pain Dr. Davidson says, “Surgery to realign the toe and remove the bony prominence is usually very effective, and there are many different surgical techniques to treat this condition. Treatment success depends on age, activities, and severity of the bunion. He cautions before making this decision, to seek the advice of a board certified podiatrist.

It is time to consult a specialist if the bunion continues to cause pain even after self-care, especially if the pain prevents you from participating in normal activities, or if there are any signs of infection, like redness or swelling, particularly if you have diabetes or circulation problems.

Finally, Dr. Davidson says that it is a fallacy that tight fitting shoes cause bunions. Shoes will certainly create symptoms due to increased pressure, but bunions are almost always caused by improper biomechanics.

WNY Resource

Dr. David Davidson is a podiatrist at Podiatry Affiliates, PC where he practices with Drs. Jeffrey Carrel, Kenneth Goldstein, Edward Fitzpatrick, David Perelstein and Carl Hoeger. Offices are in Amherst, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Derby, and Springville. Call 716-839-3930 or visit www.podiatryaffiliates.com.