Autumn Sees More Women With Bunion Problems

Oct. 13 -- SUNDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- With the transition from summer to fall, doctors note an increase in bunions among their female patients, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

Experts say this may have to do with the transition from open-toed shoes and sandals to winter footwear.

In the summer, "like everybody else, I like to wear flip-flop sandals, open-toed shoes, a nice pedicure with good nail polish," Elaine Power, a 49-year-old South Carolina hospice nurse who has bunions, said in an ACFAS news release.

But, when fall arrives, Powers and many others begin wearing closed-in shoe styles, which can be painful.

"Even after you take your shoes off, or put your feet up, it's just a throbbing. It's almost like every time your heart beats, the bunion throbs," Powers said.

In addition to changes in footwear, Dr. Karl Collins, a foot and ankle surgeon in St. Louis, said there may be two other reasons for the annual trend of more women with bunion problems.

First, women are closer to meeting their insurance deductibles at the end of the year. Second, people are more active in the summer and may be waiting until fall to address their foot problems.

"People are very active in the summer," Collins said in the news release. "They're always outdoors, they're always at the pool or whatever, so they will decide to get their bunion fixed in the winter, because in their mind, they're not missing anything fun."

Many people with bunions do not experience any pain. But for those who do, shoe changes, foam- or gel-filled shoe padding, orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections for bursitis, nerve irritation, or joint irritation may be prescribed to address the pain.

As for shoe changes, avoiding high heels and styles that crowd the toes together can help. Also, shoes can be adjusted to better fit the foot.

"If they have a shoe that fits well everywhere else, but there's just a little bit of irritation in one spot, we may recommend that they have the shoe modified" by a shoe repair shop, Collins said.

While shoe adjustment and other techniques may be able to help relieve pain, only surgery can truly correct a bunion, according to the college news release.

More information

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has more about bunions.

SOURCE: American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, news release, October 2008