Bunions are a common foot problem 一 an estimated 1 out of every 3 Americans has them 一 characterized by a bump at the base of the joint of your big toe. Unfortunately, once you have a bunion, you can’t reverse it, and it can continue to worsen over time. Bunions can rub on your shoes, making it hard to walk comfortably if left untreated.
If you already have a bunion, don’t postpone treatment. At Eazy Foot & Ankle in the Pico Robertson area of Los Angeles, California, board-certified podiatrist Albert Elhiani, DPM, diagnoses and treats bunions with non-surgical and surgical procedures.
Dr. Elhiani may recommend custom orthotics and padding to help alleviate the pain and pressure on your bunion and to eliminate some of the causative forces.
In addition to wearing orthotics, the following strategies can also help prevent bunions from getting worse:
Focus on the correct footwear
Wearing ill-fitting shoes can make bunions worse by applying uneven pressure on your toes. If you already have bunions and need to upgrade your shoes, consider a pair of shoes that:
- Have a wide toe box
- Aren’t too narrow or pointy
- Are a good fit when you put them on initially
- Have adequate cushioning and support
- Distribute pressure evenly (look for the correct arch support for your feet!)
- Are the right size – you might not be the same size in every brand
- Can fit a pair of orthotics to support your arches and prevent some of the root causes of the bunion deformity
Because your feet tend to swell as the day goes on, avoid shoe shopping first thing in the morning. You want a pair of shoes that will fit all day long, even when they’re the most swollen. Late afternoon is the best time to try on new shoes to ensure a perfect fit.
Avoid wearing high heels every day
In addition to wearing the right size shoes with proper support and a broad toe box, consider the heel height. High heels exacerbate bunions because they put excessive pressure on your toes. The worst offenders are high heels with a narrow toe base.
Ideally, flats are best for bunions, but if you must wear high heels, keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid wearing them daily
- Avoid heels over two inches
- Swap stilettos for wedges which distribute your weight better
You might also consider commuting in supportive walking shoes and then putting on your dress shoes once you’re at the office.
Rest your feet
Your feet are responsible for taking you everywhere, quite literally! Pamper your feet and give them some well-deserved rest. After standing on your feet all day, elevate them as you relax at night.
You might also consider giving your feet quick breaks throughout the day. Getting off your feet (and taking off your shoes if you’re able to) can go a long way in releasing tension and pressure on your feet.
Do your stretches
Stretches and foot exercises can help support your overall foot health while helping improve your foot’s strength and flexibility. Exercises can help manage bunion pain while preventing the bunion from getting worse.
Try some of these exercises:
- Toe pickups: pick up small objects with your toes, such as marbles
- Toe curls: curl your toes around a towel and lift it up
- Toe circles: move your toes in a circle shape to help prevent joint stiffness
- Achilles stretching: calf stretching can reduce pressure to the forefoot and progression of the bunion deformity
Feel like a trip to Malibu or Huntington Beach? Walking on a sandy beach is also good treatment for bunions because it helps strengthen the muscles in your feet, and thankfully, southern California provides plenty of beautiful choices!
Monitor your feet for changes
Bunions develop slowly, so it’s important to monitor your feet for signs that your bunions are getting worse.
Not sure if you have a bunion? You might suspect you have a bunion if the base of your big toe joint is swollen, red, or tender. As it progresses, you might notice a bump forming. Bunions can form on other toes too. A bunionette, for example, is a bunion on your pinky toe.
When conservative options are not enough
Despite your best efforts, you may find that icing, wearing orthotics, exercising, and wearing the right shoes aren’t enough to manage your symptoms any longer. Dr. Elhiani may recommend a bunionectomy, which surgically straightens the bones in your toe. Surgery can help you regain functionality and walk without pain.
If your bunions are getting hard to manage on your own, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation. You can reach our Los Angeles, California, office at 424-375-6348.