When you have a bunion, it is impossible to forget it's there. When you walk out the door with tight-fitting shoes made with the most rigid leather, you can expect an inflamed bony lump on the inside of your big toe when you go home at the end of the day, and that’s not a very comforting thought.
While shoes are the primary villain for most people, bunions can also be genetic, according to Hillary Brenner, a podiatrist based in New York. Either way, ill-fitting shoes will consistently aggravate the issue and cause the bunion lump to swell further. Shoes that lack protection are made of rigid materials and have a small or pointed toe box that should be avoided by people with bunions. They can stick to flats in general (sorry, stiletto lovers).
The Science Behind Bunions
Bunions are those sensitive, uncomfortable bony lumps located on the inside of the foot by the big toe joint. They are frequently affected by footwear decisions, and continuing to wear the incorrect footwear will allow these bony projections to grow larger and more painful. When you have a bunion, the shoes you wear become much more essential.
When the bones in the big toe joint change out of sync, a bump appears. This can be worsen by wearing shoes with short or pointed toes, which pinch the toes together. The bunion will stiffen your big toe and exert pressure on the other toes, making it difficult to walk. The strain will eventually cause the other toes on that foot to curve as well.
A bunion's bulge and the new shape of your feet will make your shoes more painful. Shoes with a tight or thin toe can be more uncomfortable because they will press into the bunion.
Inquire with the doctor or podiatrist about bunion-specific shoes. In addition, wearing the right shoes will keep the feet comfortable and prevent the bunion from worsening.
Why You Should be Concerned
A bunion, if left untreated, can lead to arthritis, particularly if the big toe joint has suffered severe, long-term damage. Bunions can gradually deteriorate the joint cartilage, making free movement painful. While bunions may be treated surgically, arthritis and the risk of chronic pain are not. There are, however, interventional treatment options that may alleviate pain.
Another issue that people may face if they do not seek the necessary surgery is crossover toe. Although an abnormal foot formation usually worsens it, having an untreated bunion increases the chances of developing a crossover toe.
These are only a couple of the risks that may arise if patients do not undergo the necessary surgery or medication. In addition to the increased risks of this disease, one's quality of life can suffer. Bunions have a reputation for worsening over time, which may result in various inconveniences, such as making the toes brush against each other, causing discomfort when walking, or being unable to find shoes that fit.
Moreover, inflammation caused by a bunion also places you at risk of contracting multiple problems and experiencing discomfort.
Things to Look Out For in Bunion Support Shoes
Here's our best-practices approach to picking the proper shoe for your bunions:
Is it accredited? Shoes bearing the American Podiatric Medical Association's (APMA) Seal of Acceptance/Approval have been mainly evaluated to aid with foot disorders such as bunions.
What is the thickness of the soles? Thicker soles will translate into longer-lasting shoe treads, providing more prolonged cushion support for your bunions from impact. If you intend to use them regularly, thick soles will save you money on replacements.
What is the weight of the shoe? Light shoes can relieve strain and weight on your bunions, allowing you to wear them for extended periods without becoming uncomfortable or injuring yourself.
What material is it composed of? Lighter, breathable fabrics are more common nowadays, with some providing a sock-like fit that contours around the natural shape of your toes. Waterproof shoes are ideal for hiking, running, or other outdoor activities. Rubber soles are also great for relieving strain on bunions.
What sort of thread is it made of? Do you require them for your job? What about school? What about sports? Outdoorsy things to do? Is the thread designed to grip firm, level surfaces or soft, uneven ground?
How far can you take them walking or running before feeling discomfort? Are these shoes versatile for all your familiar places like work, school, or the mall? Or do you plan on only using them for a specific time of the day?
Is there a warranty? Is it possible to return or exchange the shoes if you don't like them after you've worn them?
What socks will you pair these with? A decent pair of socks may provide additional protection for your bunions. Thick socks are more likely to provide the right cushion, although thinner socks allow your skin more breathability and prevent moisture build-up, which can aggravate your bunion and the skin surrounding it. Put on your shoes while wearing the socks you intend to wear.
Choosing the Right Fit
Here are some key pointers to consider when selecting the correct bunion support shoes so you can wear them with comfort and relative ease.
Length: Length can be highly variable depending on the shoe's country of origin, like UK, US, Japanese. It's much better to choose the length based on the centimeter value.
Width: The typical foot is measured on a scale ranging from narrow (AA) to broad (B) (EE). You may want to choose a larger size than your foot would fit to give your bunions some leeway without putting pressure on them.
Toe box: The toebox is one of the most critical factors when it comes to bunions. Make sure the toe box is broad enough to allow your bunions to breathe.
Accessories to Go With Your Bunion Arch Support
Once you've found the correct shoes, consider adding one or more of the following accessories to improve your comfort.
Bunion pads: Bunion pads serve as a cushion by enveloping the bunion with moleskin, felt, or gel-like material. The cushion will keep your bunion from being aggravated by pressing against your shoe. These bunion pads are available at your local pharmacy.
Orthotics: Inserting an orthotic into your shoe will place your foot in a more comfortable posture and reduce strain on it. Some orthotics are available over the counter at general stores, while some require a podiatrist prescription to purchase.
Toe spacer: Placing a silicone toe spacer between your big toe and second toe can assist in keeping your toes aligned.
Arch support: Bunions are common in flatfooted people. Foot arch refers to the curved part on the bottom of your feet. Over-the-counter arch supports can assist in correcting this issue and restoring your feet to a more natural posture. You may get them over the counter or with a doctor's prescription.
Thin, loose socks: Avoid wearing socks that are too thick or too tight. They will put pressure on your bunion, exacerbating the pain.
Do Bunion Supports Work?
Bunion arch support shoes only serve to provide temporary relief, especially to more severe bunion cases.
Bunions arise as a result of a misalignment of specific joints and bones in the foot. This imbalance might be the result of years of foot pressure. As a result, those who often wear high heels or other tight-fitting shoes are prone to bunions. Alternatively, some people are genetically predisposed to having bunions.
A bunion, regardless of how it originates, will not improve with time. On the contrary, they tend to deteriorate and become more severe until they are either removed or constantly used for bunion support products. In actuality, palliative therapies such as bunion splints, pads, cushions, and special footwear are provided as temporary "band-aids." So, while these items may provide temporary pain alleviation, they do not provide long-term remedies to bunion discomfort.
A surgical surgery is the only technique to remove a bunion permanently. This may appear to be a dramatic step, but fortunately, minimally invasive bunion surgery is faster, safer, more successful, and less painful than standard surgery. Unlike previous bunionectomy treatments, current surgeons can remove a bunion in less than an hour as an outpatient operation. Furthermore, the operation leaves no scarring, and most patients can walk and drive home afterward.
The Final Fit
While a bunion support brace is beneficial in providing immediate comfort and mitigating further damage, it's more helpful to get your doctor's opinion on whether surgery is needed or not. Bunions can worsen over time, leading to complications that may be even worse for your overall health. And remember, as long as it doesn't chafe or rub on your bunion, you've found a good support shoe.