Dear Dr Nina: Can I stop my bunion from getting worse?
Q I think I am getting a bunion. It is in the very early stages. Is it possible to stave it off?
Dr Nina replies: Bunions are very common. They can run in families, and 15pc are felt to be genetic. However, the other 85pc are due to ill-fitting or high-heeled shoes.
A bunion occurs when the base of the large toe moves away from the other joints of the foot at the same time the top of the large toe moves towards the other toes.
The skin on the outside can become thickened and red, creating the classic angled red appearance that we all dread. Bunions can be painful and can also make it difficult to wear certain shoes. They are most common in women due to the shoes we wear, but they can also occur in those with diabetes or flat feet.
Simple measures - like applying ice, raising the foot and taking over-the-counter painkillers - may help relieve pain. Wearing shoes that have a narrow toe or have a high heel will exacerbate the problem and should be avoided.
See a chiropodist or physiotherapist who has an interest in foot pain. They may be able to prescribe orthotics (specially moulded insoles), which can be placed in shoes. These may relieve the pressure across the ball of your foot, reducing pain.
Losing weight if you are overweight will reduce the strain on your feet.
Bunion relieving bandages and straps may help relieve discomfort, but they will not correct the deformity.
It is important to point out that not all bunions progress to a severe deformity. Wearing wide shoes will take pressure off the toes, but given the genetic link, this may not be enough to stave off progression.