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Bunion-Proof Your Feet with Our Surgeons’ Top 3 Shoe Shopping Tips

As Inland Empire podiatric surgeons, we help hundreds of patients each year get lasting relief from painful bunions with bunion surgery. But we also understand that given the option, you’d probably rather stay out of our operating room—and still avoid the pain and stiffness of bunions.

While surgery is often the best solution for severe bunions, the good news is that you can prevent bunions from getting to this point, even if you’re on your feet all day. It just takes a little knowledge about what really causes bunions, and what shoes to wear to keep them at bay. Here’s our brief primer to help you bunion-proof your feet.

What exactly is a bunion?

Essentially, a bunion (or “hallux valgus” in medical speak) is a big toe joint that’s shifted out of alignment and become inflamed and enlarged as a result. It’s characterized by a large bony bump on the joint. As a bunion worsens, the big toe starts to angle inward, sometimes even overlapping the little toes.

This often painful condition can make it difficult to walk normally, as the pressure can reduce mobility in the big toe while causing other toes to bend.

Bunions don’t simply “run in your family” (no matter what mom told you)

If one of your parents suffers from bunions, you may look at the bunions beginning to form on your own feet and think, “this is just my destiny.” Well, it’s not! While heredity does seem to play a role in how easily some people develop bunions, the fact is they are almost entirely preventable by wearing the right shoes for your feet.

Those gnarly bunions your mom is sporting? Take a look at her shoe choices. If she’s famous for wearing narrow, pointed shoes or stilettos, there’s your answer. Wearing tight, ill-fitting shoes that constrain the forefoot and toes is the leading culprit behind bunions—not heredity. Which leads us to our first piece of advice.

Choose your kicks for fit over fashion

Most of us are guilty of sacrificing foot comfort in the name of “those shoes are gorgeous!!” While wearing high heels, pointed toes, and narrow fits can be OK on bunion-free feet for special events, cramming your feet into these fashionable styles day after day could lead to major problems down the road—a road that could end in bunion surgery if you aren’t careful. Avoid them if you’re going to be on your feet for a long time, or if you already have bunions.

So what are the best shoes for bunions?

The aforementioned shoe types are not your friends if you have bunions, but it is possible to find shoes that both look great and fit right to help prevent bunions from developing or becoming worse. You just need to know how to shop.

Opt for round-toed shoes

Your main objective is to find shoes that don’t constrain your toes. Round-toe styles generally offer a roomier fit that lets toes—and that big toe joint—freely move as nature intended. If you already suffer from bunions, a wider toebox will alleviate pressure on your sore spots.

Rethink your views on orthopedic shoes

If you think “lunch lady” when you think of orthopedic shoes, think again. If your feet are going to put up with a shoe all day, you need support and comfort—and the more flexible uppers, well-structured soles, and ergonomic fit of orthopedic shoes fit the bill. Today’s options extend far beyond the chef’s clogs and nurse’s shoes of the past; an experienced shoe seller can help you find the right fit and brand for your needs.

Don’t forget the accessories

Sometimes our feet suffer from the Goldilocks complex: nothing fits just right. Accessories like the following can take an “almost there” shoe to being “just right” for soothing bunions:

  • Bunion pads: If you already have bunions, adding a little padding between your shoe wall and bunion can help with any aches and pains. Just make sure you shoe is wide enough to give your toes adequate space to move around with the pad.
  • Orthotics: Custom shoe inserts can add padding and support to relieve pain and pressure.
  • Arch support: Flat feet can be more prone to bunions. Arch support pads can help bring the foot into a healthier position and add comfort.
  • Toe spacers: You know how bunions result from cramming toes into shoes? Using toe spacers can prevent that from happening.
  • Wear comfortable socks: Even wearing tight socks can restrict your toes and put pressure on the bunion. Always opt for stretchier socks that are big enough for your feet. Toe socks can also be a great option for workouts.

Needing more than additional shoe support?

If you suffer from painful bunions and have tried all the tricks in the book, it might be time to see your Rancho Cucamonga foot doctor to discuss ways to relieve your pain and annoyance with this common condition.

We offer a variety of bunion treatments in the Inland Empire, including medications for inflammation and bunion surgery, and can help determine the best route for restoring your foot health. Call 909-579-3111 or contact us online to make an appointment.

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