Stop buying things to prevent bunions, just take better care of your feet
Back when Victoria Beckham was more perma-tanned and Karen-bobbed than we know her now, the biggest news stories about her weren’t to do with her fashion label – they were about her bunions.
In 2009, the headlines spoke of how she was having to have surgery to correct bunions that were caused by her love of skyscraper heels.
An anonymous friend told the Daily Mail: ‘Victoria calls her feet “the bane of my life”, but she is worried about having the operation because she fears they will compromise her ability to wear heels and ruin her stylish look.’
Other than this brush with stardom, though, bunions haven’t ever really had much in terms of airtime over the years (unless you could Randall Weems giving Ms Finster a foot rub in Recess – niche).
But they’re something many of us have, causing us pain and ruining our plans to wear cute sandals in the summer time.
It’s estimated that around 28.4% of the total adult population have bunions, with age and gender increasing their prevalence.
If you’ve had them, you’ll know what they are, but for the uninitiated, Andrew Gladstone D.pod.M of City Chiropody says: ‘Bunions are a swollen big toe joint that often protrudes out at the base of the big toe joint.’
According to Andrew, ‘some can be very small and slightly squishy, some can eventually be large hard areas. Sometimes, especially if they have been there for a while, the big toe can start to deviate towards the second toe.
‘In extreme cases the second toe can become distorted and actually end up being on top of the big toe.’
This could end up being extremely painful, particularly when you’re walking or standing.
But there are a whole load of myths surrounding bunions, that end up causing chiropodists a lot of headaches. Firstly, the idea that it’s solely (sorry) ill-fitting shoes that’ll lead you to have bunions.
According to Andrew, they’re a genetically acquired issue. Although you can make them worse wearing tight heels and distorting your feet, many will get them regardless of what they do.
It is still better to wear supportive shoes, but Andrew said that it’s not simply a case of avoiding heels and going a size up.
‘Tight fitting shoes probably don’t cause bunions entirely, although
these shoes might make the problem worse,’ he says.
‘A bad fitting shoe might be a court shoe, but even loose-fitting slip-on shoes can contribute e.g. ballet pumps.
‘Bad shoes can damage the joint by direct pressure and rubbing. Thin soled shoes can also damage the big toe joint as it can cause the joint to be repeatedly hit the ground hard as there is no cushioning in the shoe.’
There’s also the belief that bunions are just a female issue, but Andrew says, ‘men can get them too for the same reasons.’
Because it’s not just heels that give you them, and your predisposition is written in your genes, you get bunions no matter your gender.
Taking care of your feet in all in the shoes says Andrew:
‘Most bunions can be managed easily by making sure the shoes you wear
are wide and deep enough to accommodate your feet without squashing
‘Laxes and buckles to hold the shoe in place when you walk are also
a good idea. Trying to wear a shoe that has a impact-absorbing sole can
take a lot of pressure off the joint too.’
Sadly, however, even those that wear orthopaedic granny shoes sizes to perfection can still find themselves with pain.
‘Occasionally, no matter what you wear on your feet, some patients find their bunions are still very painful,’ says Andrew.
In these cases, surgery is the only option to remove them, and no home remedy will help.
Andrew continues: ‘At this point its probably a good idea to seek the advice of a
Podiatric or Orthopedic surgeon and discuss a surgical solution.
‘There are lots of techniques to correct the bunions. Many patients opt to get
their bunions surgically corrected just to improve the aesthetic look of
‘I usually advise to consider this option carefully and make
sure you are well informed of any possible problems that might arise due
to the surgery. It can sometimes be a complex procedure.’
Regarding these home remedies, you’ve probably seen them in catalogues pushed through your door or on shopping channels. From splints to special sandals, they’re marketed as a quick fix to the unsightly and annoying problem.
A sore tooth wouldn’t cause you to head out and buy your own dental drill and braces, but when it comes to our feet it appears we’re more than happy to do it ourselves (or try to anyway).
On searching for the keyword ‘bunions’ on Amazon, you’ll see over 30,000 results, with the bestseller and Amazon’s choice showing you ‘toe straighteners’ and ‘toe separators’.
Andrew, however, is sceptical – and you can probably understand why, as he sees many patients who’ve tried everything before seeing a professional.
He says: ‘There are lots of devices available on the market that claim to
correct bunions (especially in the back of the Sunday newspapers).
‘I have even seen hypnosis, acupuncture, homoeopathy and exercise marketed
as a way to get rid of bunions.
‘All of these devices and claims, in my opinion, make no difference to a bunion. Most are a waste of money and time.’