Women's Feet & Bunions
—Is it all due to our shoes?
Bunions, or the development of that annoying bump on the side of the big toe, is often times more problematic in the female than the male foot, often times due to the pressure from the more slender female shoe. But did the shoe really cause the bunion to form?
There is a 90% genetic transmission of bunion conditions from the maternal side. That’s right—genetic, not necessarily associated with the style of shoes we wear. And yet we can see the formation of bunions in both the female and male population so why, in the podiatric medical practice, is there a preponderance of women to men with this condition?
The truth of the matter is that although women do have a higher risk of getting a bunion from mom’s side, it is often times our shoes that make the condition more painful and require us to seek medical care. So what is a bunion? Is it really just a bump or growth on the side of the big toe and can it just be shaved off to narrow the foot and allow it to fit better in a shoe?
The answer to that question is NO—a bunion is not just a bump or growth. A bunion is the actual movement of the first metatarsal away from the second metatarsal causing the bone to lean up against the skin and give the appearance of a bump. The big toe then begins to lean toward the second toe and the entire joint becomes crooked. The more crooked the big toe joint becomes, the bigger the “bump” or pressure from the bone underneath becomes. This can cause pain just from the pressure but often times, the pain is also coming from the joint which is now crooked and not moving properly.
There are a variety of treatments for a bunion condition. A wider shoe to avoid pressure directly over the bone can help but if there is joint pain as well, the discomfort from the bunion will not fully resolve. Sometimes an orthotic device to help reduce pressure on the big toe joint can be beneficial but for women, may mean changing the type of preferred shoe to accommodate the orthotic device. If conservative care fails to alleviate symptoms, surgery can be discussed with your foot and ankle physician to realign the joint and realign the first metatarsal to correct the bunion deformity.
Call us today to evaluate and discuss treatment options for your bunion condition.
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