Do High Heels Fuel Bunion Pain?

Do High Heels Fuel Bunion Pain?

High heels are a common item in most women’s wardrobes, and some jobs even make wearing heels a requirement of employment for women. But could these shoes be destroying your feet?

High heels are the acceptable beauty norm for women’s footwear, but the damage done over time by improperly fitting shoes that put extra strain on the front part of your feet can be extreme. High heels are a known contributor to bunions, also known as hallux valgus — a painful foot condition.

At Hansen Foot & Ankle in Mill Creek, Washington, Dr. Nathan Hansen and his team provide surgical and nonsurgical solutions for bunion pain.

A bunions overview

Bunions form when the main bone in the big toe and the bone at the base of the big toe start to angle out, forming a large jutting triangle at the inner edge of the foot. 

If caught early, bunions can often be corrected through nonsurgical means, but extreme deformation of the foot caused by a bunion can mean you’ll need surgery to correct the maladjusted bones.

Genetics and arthritis can both play a big part in whether you’re prone to bunions. Anyone can get a bunion, male or female, but women tend to be more prone because high heels can also exacerbate the conditions that lead to bunions.

Causes of bunions 

Any time you wear too-narrow, tight, or pointy shoes, your foot can be constricted and your toes crushed together in an unhealthy way. Over time, this enforced cramping of your toes can cause the foot bones to begin to shift, pushing the bones out of place and causing the trademark bunion shape. The bulge is accompanied by swelling, redness, and increasing pain. 

High heels are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to footwear that causes bunions, and they’re typically, tight, narrow, and have pointed toes. Additionally, high heels exert downward pressure on the toes and ball of the foot, making it more likely that bones will start to shift in response to the added pressure.

Preventing and mitigating bunion pain 

The bunion itself often doesn’t cause pain. However, the continued pressure can lead to inflammation, which causes pain as nerves are pinched and the bones of the foot press against each other. 

Wearing the right shoes is one of the best choices you can make. Go through your shoe wardrobe, and ditch any that are tight or narrow, including your highest heels. Look at your other footwear as well; you’ll be surprised at how many boots and even athletic shoes have a too-pointed toe.

To properly support your foot and prevent causing or aggravating bunions, look for shoes with proper arch support; a sensible, sturdy heel; and a wide toe box with plenty of room for your foot to feel comfortable. You can use this list of bunion-friendly footwear as a guide.

Bunion treatment options

In addition to choosing the best shoes, you can see a bunion specialist like Dr. Hansen. We have the diagnostic tools and treatment protocols necessary to slow or stop this progressive condition. 

Nonsurgical treatment

Typically, unless your bunion is already fully progressed, we recommend conservative treatment. This can include padding, night splints, over-the-counter or custom orthotics, and other basic measures to make your feet more comfortable and prevent worsening of your bunions.

Surgical treatment

If your foot is severely deformed and inflamed, Dr. Hansen performs surgery to realign the bones in your foot, adjust tension on the ligaments holding them in place, and remove excess inflamed tissue. After recovery and rehabilitation, you should be able to stand and walk without bunion pain.

Are you suffering from bunions? We can help. Contact our office to request a consultation today.