High Heels and Bunion Pain: What You Need to Know

You know the feeling. You get home from work or a night out, take off your beautiful high-heeled shoes, and you have that moment of pleasant relief before your feet start to ache, especially around the joint where your big toe meets your foot. It might even look a little red and swollen, which could be a bunion. While your high heels didn’t necessarily cause your bunion, they’re sure not doing your feet any favors. 

Wait, bunions? Isn’t that something that only older people get? 

Unfortunately, you can develop bunions at any time in your life; even adolescent girls sometimes develop bunions. Fortunately, our team of podiatrists and foot and ankle surgeons here at Hoosier Foot & Ankle provide a comprehensive range of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for bunions.

What is a bunion, exactly?

Bunions, clinically known as hallux valgus, are a joint deformity that develops when your big toe leans toward your other toes and puts pressure on the joint connecting it to your foot, pushing it out of alignment. Over time, bone deposits grow on the joint to protect it, which results in the tell-tale bump on the side of your foot. While bunions are most common on your big toe joints, they can also form on your little toe joints. 

If not high heels, what causes bunions?

In most cases, you develop bunions because of your genes. Someone in your family probably has bunions, and you inherited their foot type. You might also develop bunions if you’ve had a foot injury or repetitive foot stress, perhaps from running or participating in a sport that requires jumping. Also, conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout contribute to your risk of developing bunions.

Why are high heels a bad idea if I have bunions?

Experts argue about whether or not high-heeled shoes cause bunions. Regardless of the side you choose on that argument, there’s no doubt wearing poorly fitting shoes that squeeze your toes or high heels that force most of your weight onto the balls of your feet and toes isn’t good for your foot health. Improperly fitting shoes can definitely make your bunions worse and increase your foot pain. 

Getting help for bunions

If you’re concerned about bunions, the earlier you consult with a member of our team, the better. Like most health conditions, getting treatment for bunions early is often less invasive and reduces your risk of discomfort, deformity, and mobility issues. Some of the earliest warning signs of bunions include:

Our team provides personalized treatment plans for bunions. We begin with a thorough examination of your feet, which might include X-rays. Then, depending on the condition of your feet, we create a treatment plan tailored just for you. Some of the conservative treatments for bunions include:

We also recommend changing your footwear to shoes that have plenty of space for your toes, which probably means no more high heels, at least for the time being. 

However, if your bunions are advanced and are causing severe pain, mobility issues, and other problems, we might recommend bunion surgery. Surgery usually involves removing the extra bone tissue from your joint and straightening your big toe. 

When your feet have healed, and you’re comfortable, you can slip back into your beautiful heels, but we recommend you save your high heels for special occasions that won’t have you on your feet for a long time.

If you suffer from foot pain, give us a call or schedule a consultation online today at any of our seven offices located in and around Indianapolis to find out what’s causing your pain and get the treatment you need to get back to your regular activities. 

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