Does fashion footwear cause bunions
Friday 2 June 2017

According to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, and contrary to popular belief, bunions are not actually caused by fashion shoes such as high heels. Bunions are most often caused by a defective mechanical structure of the foot, which is genetic, and these certain foot types make a person prone to developing a bunion¹.

Wearing shoes that squeeze your forefoot and crowd your toes together can exacerbate an underlying condition and cause pain and deformity of your joint. Although many women can wear these shoes and not get bunions. Bunions can also be caused by age, arthritis or playing sport.

What are bunions

Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, are a common foot condition with over 15% of women in the UK suffering from them.  A bunion is a deformity of your big toe whereby the big toe excessively leans towards the second toe causing a bony lump to appear on the side of your foot. A large sac of fluid called a bursa can also form on the bunion which can become sore and inflamed.

Symptoms of bunions

In addition to your big toe pushing over on to the second toe and a bony lump appearing on the outside edge of your foot you may also experience:

- pain and swelling over your big toe joint – this can be aggravated by wearing shoes.

- hard, callused and red skin – due to your big toe and second toe overlapping.

- sore skin on the top of your bunion – this can rub on your shoes and become inflamed and painful.

- foot shape changes – this can make it difficult to find shoes that fit correctly.

How to prevent bunions

Sensible shoe choices can be a good preventative measure against bunions forming or becoming worse.

Practical well-fitting shoes are your best option. If you notice a bunion starting to form, it’s recommended that you change your footwear and find wide shoes with plenty of toe room.

You should avoid pointed shoes and keep heels to a maximum of 4cm or below whilst varying your heel height each day. Steer away from shoes bought online as they often don’t fit properly.

If you catch a bunion in its early stages, you may be able to avoid or postpone surgery.

Bunion treatment options

Non-surgical treatment options will initially be suggested. These include: painkillers, bunion pads, orthotics and suitable footwear.

If you have significant pain caused by a bunion, then surgery will probably be recommended. It is the only way to correct a bunion. Bunion surgery is normally day-case surgery performed under general or local anaesthetic and involves removing the bony lump and straightening your big toe. This should relief your pain, improve your foot’s alignment and make wearing shoes easier.

Treatment at North Downs Hospital

Here at North Downs Hospital we have a team of experts on hand to offer advice for your bunion and surgically remove it if it’s causing you pain. You can call 01883 348981 or contact us to make an appointment with one of our foot and ankle consultants who will discuss your options.

In short…

Fashion shoes do not cause bunions but they can make an underlying condition worse and exacerbate the pain of a bunion. Sensible well-fitting shoes may prevent bunions appearing or getting worse.

If a bunion does form on your foot, surgery is the only treatment option to correct the defect. 



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