Beat foot pain from bunions
As a teacher’s assistant, Zaida Rojas hardly has time to sit down. So, when the bump near her big toe became painful, she visited a podiatrist looking to relieve her aching foot.
It was a bunion and, for Rojas, the cause wasn’t in her genes; it was in her shoes. “I wore high-heeled, pointed-toe shoes for a long time,” she says. “The added pressure on the front of my foot caused the bunion.”
Gerard Collins, DPM, Virtua podiatrist explains: “People get bunions when the tendons, ligaments and soft tissue around the big or little toe stop functioning properly.
When this happens, the bones become misaligned causing the bump. Associated inflammation can make the condition painful.”
Rojas is not alone. The cute shoes women love to wear make them 10 times more likely than men to get bunions. Women can lower their chances by wearing shoes with a low heel, a rounded toe and lots of support. That means no four-inch, pointed-toe heels or flip flops.
If bunions begin to develop, early diagnosis and treatment may lead to better outcomes. “If patients see me when they first notice the bunion, I can prescribe custom-made arch supports, which, along with stretching exercises and properly fitting shoes, may prevent the bunions from getting big and painful,” says Dr. Collins.
But if the bunions become too large, the only relief is surgery. “When treated early, the surgery is simpler and the recovery is quicker,” says Dr. Collins.
“In some milder cases, I can use a new type of pin to hold the corrected bones in place while they heal. The pin dissolves over time and eliminates the need for a second surgery to remove it.”
“In mild cases, the recovery may be as little as four weeks versus a severe case which can take up to 12 weeks. The complexity of the surgery also determines whether a walking boot or cast is needed during the recovery period.”
Once the bunion has been removed, patients need to take precautions to prevent the bunions from returning. And that’s just what Rojas is doing. “Now, I wear sneakers and low heels,” she says. “This may not be as fashion forward, but my foot is healthy and pain free.”