I just found out my foot pain is being caused by bunions. Now what?
June 15, 2009 12:55 PM   Subscribe

I just found out my foot pain is being caused by bunions. Now what?

I know already that surgery should be a last-ditch option. What I need to know now are all of the things veteran bunion-survivors know: where to find tennis shoes/ dressy shoes/ sandals that look good and don't hurt, whether I can continue doing high-impact exercise like running and tennis without causing more damage, etc. What do you wish you had known if you had learned about your bunions at 23 years old?
posted by picapica to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have a different foot issue, but SAS shoes have made me a much happier person. They are built for comfort, come in some reasonably stylish varieties, and probably usefully for your bunions, come in variable widths, too.
posted by nat at 1:08 PM on June 15, 2009

A heat pack will also help with the swelling a bit. It won't fix anything, but trust me, temporary relief can be a big deal.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:15 PM on June 15, 2009

For running, check out something like the Asics Gel 3010. It features a special "bunion window" (essentially a flexible panel that gives easily, avoiding pressure on the bunion) They're pricey, but they are a great, comfortable stability runner.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:54 PM on June 15, 2009

I don't agree that surgery is a last ditch effort. Bunions are a bone deformity, period. The only way to fix them and the pain is surgically.
I had one foot operated on at 27 and the other at 28 and it was the best thing I've ever done. (Besides laser eye surgery!)
My mom and countless other women have walked around for years just accepting the pain as a fact of life. No deal for me. When my bunion pain started affecting my ability to exercise, I opted for surgery.
Now... post-surgery, I have had a full and wonderful recovery. I am glad I did it at a young age and before I had a family.
You should meet with a couple different podiatrists, if possible, to see what they have to say about your questions, especially the exercise questions. My podiatrist recommends an athletic shoe with a very stiff sole as well as dress shoes with a box-shaped toe so there's enough space for all of the toes.
Whatever you end up doing, good luck!
posted by FergieBelle at 2:11 PM on June 15, 2009

i got surgery and it's the best thing i ever did. prior to surgery, my feet would hurt after just a couple of hours of standing around. forget about heels. since the surgery, i have had NO pain whatsoever from it, even walking around in 5" heels—and my surgery was over a dozen years ago. like FergieBelle said, don't look at it as a last-ditch option. you don't have to be living with the pain, or even slight pain bc you are using less permanent remedies.
posted by violetk at 2:51 PM on June 15, 2009

I saw a podiatrist at 13 for my bunions, and he recommended not getting surgery until absolutely necessary. At 46, I am pain-free, in spite of one of my bunions having bones connecting at a 90 degree angle (as revealed in xrays.) I wear shoes that fit and are comfortable, no heels, no straps across the bunion itself, and materials that will give. But I don't buy special shoes, either. I'm not athletic--I imagine you will need to pick athletic shoes with care. I suppose if you've got fabulous insurance and time to take off work, why NOT have the surgery now. I don't have good insurance myself. When/if I do need surgery, I will benefit from all the advances in the field since 1976 when I had my diagnosis.
posted by QuakerMel at 3:50 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've got bunions - found out about 2.5 years ago from my sports med doctor, and they were already pretty far along at that point. He basically gave me some pointers on how to manage them and told me that I should opt for surgery as soon as the pain became too much for my active lifestyle. Currently, I consider my bunion issues to be manged quite well, although I realize I am on borrowed time because they become painful if I am not 100% perfect or when I run over 16 miles or so. My weekly workout schedule consists of 2-3 hours strength training, 3 hours of cross training, and anywhere from 25-45 miles per week of running (depending on the season). I am trying to avoid surgery in general, because surgery can reduce range of motion in the big toe.

Here are some things I absolutely must do to keep my pain managed:
1) ALWAYS wear arch support and shoes in general, with the exception of yoga or pilates. I should note that I also have very flat feet, which makes the arch support doubly important. You can get arch support for most types of shoes if you look around.
2) SHOES: Avoid wearing any shoes that pinch the toes in the front. The wider the toebox, the better. I only wear heels for going out, and even then I risk paying for it over the next three days. For work, choose comfort brands and avoid heels (I have luck with ecco, indigo by clarks/clarks, and privo). Never wear shoes that are unsupportive in front (such as ballet flats, driving mocs, flipflops), stiffer is beter. For running, you don't necessarily need those super supportive bunion shoes. I run in plain old stability New Balance shoes with an arch support, because they tend to be nice and wide in the front. Be sure to check out a running store because they are used to dealing with bunion issues.
3) REHAB: My toe is more comfortable when in a straight position, so I tape a toe spacer between my toes at night (you can get them at any drugstore - I actually use two per toe). If my bunions are acting up, I'll also tape my toes before running or working out. There are also some exercises that I do.
4) EXERCISE CHANGES: Complete at least 33% of my weekly running mileage on either a treadmill or an unpaved trail to lessen the impact on my feet. I also avoid exercises that will cause me to go up on my toes (such as lunges and calf raises).
posted by smalls at 5:27 PM on June 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

OH - I forgot #5:
5) WHEN BUNIONS ARE ACTING UP: Ice the inflamed area and take Aleve. This is what I have found to work best for me.
posted by smalls at 5:37 PM on June 15, 2009

Consider having the surgery. I had one side done and it turned out perfect. The only reason I haven't had the other side done is because the recovery time is quite awhile and I never seem to be able to find the time. I will, however, because I know I will be happy about it when I get it all done. If you opt for surgery just make sure you have a good surgeon--there are goofballs in the podiatry world. Check references. You won't regret doing it.
posted by naplesyellow at 8:30 PM on June 15, 2009

You might find some helpful information in this recent question.
posted by transporter accident amy at 12:30 AM on June 16, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! If you have any other specific recommendations for shoes, specifically nice dressy ones, I would love to hear them! Also, has anyone used the splints I see advertised online?
posted by picapica at 9:18 AM on June 16, 2009

Just today, I followed the link offered by peachfuzz in the last bunion thread. I've never tried taping before, and it was fantastic because this evening was my first run at the gym without major pains!
posted by zerokey at 6:40 PM on June 17, 2009

« Older Friction baby.   |   MySQL connection error Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.