The pressures that newer, stiffer shoe place on the bones of our feet can aggravate the second most common foot ailment my patients complain of – bunions.
Just in time for all those holiday parties then, I'd like to share with you some tips on how to both prevent these painful foot ailments and how to minimize the discomfort from them.
Too tight shoes can create even more rubbing when your foot may need to slide in and out of the shoe during certain motions, like going up on your toes, or turning your feet, in certain dance moves, walking uphill or downhill, or just walking in general for an extended time. Pretty soon, you've created a blister, maybe even a few.
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Now here's how to handle them:
Band-Aids: Carry a handful in your jacket pocket or your purse. They're the best immediate fix for a blister.
Old Shoes: Bring along an old, comfortable pair of shoes if you must change into them.
Don't Pop It: Once you open a blister and drain it, the overlying skin peels back exposing the red, raw skin beneath it and can get infected. It also makes it hurt more. Wrap a Band-Aid, even 2, firmly around the blister without draining it. This provides extra padding against the shoe.
Stretch Your Shoes: Stretch your shoe right in the place where it is rubbing.
While blisters are usually temporary, bunions can stay around for a while and worsen in their condition. Usually, what causes bunions are, like blisters, ill-fitting shoes in the first place! In addition, just the shape of the shoe can cause/aggravate bunions, namely too-narrow toe boxes that push the toes together such as occurs in cowboy boots or pointy high heels. A bunion is a bony bump at the base of your big toe and causes the toe to lean toward the other toes.
Bunions, like blisters, are caused by stress and pressure, but this time against the bone/joint itself, rather than the overlying skin. The foot tries to compensate by building up fluid at the point of "rub". This also creates inflammation in the deeper tissues. The bone also starts to over-grow at this point, almost as an attempt to push the foot away from the area of the rub.
The development of a bunion means that there is excessive pronation, or turning, in the rearfoot which causes friction and pressure against the bones of the forefoot and bunions to form. Poorly fitting, or ill-supporting, shoes can cause this pronation of the foot.
Here's what helps bunions:
Roomy Shoes – shoes need enough space around the bunion to prevent further rubbing against the already toughened callous overlying the bunion. Look for a wider toe box. Stretch any new shoes with shoe stretchers to provide extra room over the bunion area.
Orthotics – these are custom made stabilizers for the foot that keep the rearfoot from turning and causing further pressure/rubbing against bones in the forefoot.
Bunion pads – sold at pharmacies, these are inexpensive gel-pads that fit over the calloused bunion area and prevent further rubbing against your shoe.
Topical pain relievers – over the counter rub-in gel pain relievers can help