What are bunions?
A bunion (or ‘Hallux Abducto Valgus’ medically-speaking), most commonly occurs when the big toe moves away from the midline of the body. Many people experience a bunion as a bump on the side of the foot but it can take many different forms, and while I frequently treat women looking for alternative options to surgery, bunions can occur to anyone of any age.
As they can cause your forefoot to become wider, finding a shoe that fits comfortably around the bunion (without irritating it further) can sometimes require a little guidance.
What causes bunions?
There’s no one absolute answer to what causes bunions as various factors can come into play for each individual, but there are plenty of scientific theories:
Scientists believe that some people are genetically predisposed to suffering from bunions, so if your parents have experienced problems, you could find that you do too. Everything from arthritis to tendon changes can contribute to how likely you are to develop bunions, making it difficult to accurately pinpoint any one specific reason.
Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow can squeeze the toes in towards each other, adding pressure around the toe joints and creating a constant challenge for anyone looking to find fashionable shoes for bunions.
Bunions are more common in women than men, and while there aren’t any direct scientific answers as to why this is, it’s thought that wearing narrow shoes or high heels (creating pressure around the toes) is a factor at play. A lot of my female clients find it impossible to find pretty shoes for bunions that are both comfortable but also fit in with their personal style.
A poor gait or walking pattern (eg. where you may be compensating for an injury), as well as accompanying foot conditions (such as arthritis), can also play a part in developing a bunion as your foot may be moving in a way that’s not correctly supported.
Some foot types, such as flat feet, are more prone to experiencing bunions as flat foot pronation (the rolling-in motion that happens as you walk) can lead to more pressure on the big toe. Over time, this pressure could cause a shift in the gait pattern (the mechanics of how you walk), altering how your weight is distributed across your foot when you walk-potentially leading to bunions.
How can you treat bunions?
While there’s a multitude of reasons why you might experience a bunion, managing day-to-day discomfort and symptoms is usually the best course of action unless medical intervention is required. For most people, investing in the right shoes is the most effective way to protect your foot from any further damage.
Whether your bunion has just developed or has been around for as long as you remember, make sure to always wear supportive shoes. You might find that regular width shoes are putting too much pressure on the bunion causing discomfort so, if you need them, finding wide shoes for bunions is paramount. Don’t go too far the other way though-if your shoe is too wide, your foot will move more than it should and you could end up gripping your toes to prevent sliding, exacerbating the problem.