Do High Heels Fuel Bunion Pain?

Let’s face it: feet aren’t the most attractive part of the body. To make them more appealing, it makes sense to dress them up in high heels.

While we understand that there are widely accepted beauty norms, we also know that your feet often pay a price for those standards. Here our team of specialists at Optima Foot and Ankle take a closer look at bunions — and how your high-heeled shoes can make them worse.

Where bunions come from

Bunions are structural defects that develop over time and stem from an issue with your metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. This is the joint that connects the first long bone in your foot (metatarsal) with the first bone of your big toe (phalanx).

A bunion forms at the base of your big toe when these two bones are forced out of alignment.

Anyone can develop a bunion, but there are a few factors that increase your risk, such as genetics and arthritis. But the primary culprit behind this progressive and often painful condition is tight, high, or otherwise ill-fitting footwear.

When you wear narrow or pointy-toed shoes that don’t allow space for your toes to spread out, you disrupt the balance in your foot’s structure, which can give rise to anatomical defects like bunions and hammertoes.

High-heeled shoes are particularly notorious for forcing most of the pressure onto the balls of your feet and toes, accelerating structural issues like bunions. This makes them an enemy to all big toes and MTP joints.

You and your bunion

Bunions don’t necessarily cause pain on their own, but the bony protrusion that results from the joint misalignment can become inflamed due to friction and pressure. Shoes that are too tight or narrow significantly increase the friction and pressure around your bunions.

Once your bunion becomes inflamed, it can be nearly impossible to wear shoes of any kind, as even the slightest pressure on the bony protrusion can leave you in agony.

In other words, if you have a bunion, one of the best things you can do for your feet is to avoid high heels and pointy or narrow toes, and opt for footwear that allows your feet to spread out normally and distribute your weight evenly.

We’re not asking you to sacrifice your fashion sense for the sake of your feet. For shoes that look great, feel great, and support your feet, take a look at this list of bunion-friendly footwear.

Beyond picking better shoes, the best thing you can do to manage bunions is to come to see us at the first signs of a potential problem. We have the treatments and expertise necessary to slow or halt the progressive condition with orthotics, exercises, and other treatments.

If your bunion pain doesn’t improve with conservative measures, our expert team can also treat it surgically. We offer traditional as well as minimally invasive bunion surgery options.

If you have more questions, or if you think you have a bunion, don’t hesitate to request an appointment at our Bend, Oregon, office by calling our friendly staff at 541-383-3668, or using our easy online booking tool.

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