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How to treat bunions and flat feet

Updated on June 20, 2014

It is very difficult to prove what aggravates bunions or how they become symptomatic. Surgery will only usually be performed if it becomes too painful for normal footwear.

A bunion or 'hallux valgus' occurs when the big toe turns in to face the second toe. In this case, the edge of the foot (where the big toe joint is) seems to form a bump. The two main causes are family heritage and tight shoes. Bunions occur more frequently in women due to type of footwear which can be uncomfortable even though fashionable.

Normally, you can take pressure of the bunion by wearing a wider shoe, pads to protect the bunion or inserts that separate the first and second toe. Not all bunions are painful, but if there is too much discomfort or the swelling becomes too big, surgery may be required.

Women may suffer from this condition more than men due to the type of shoes they somewhere which doesn't allow the feet to rest in a natural position.

Surgery for Bunions

There are hundreds of surgical techniques for this problem. In general, the surgery consists of 'filing' protruding bone, cutting the bone or improving the alignment (osteotomy) and soft tissue release pads to re-balance the big toe joint. The type of surgery depends on the presence of arthritis in the joint, symptoms, size of the deformity and the patient's age.

Surgery is not recommended in adolescents unless the pain persists after nonsurgical treatments. If younger people undergo surgery, especially before they are fully developed, there are more chances of recurrence.

The main difference between adolescent and adult bunions is that children, most are congenital in origin, while adult bunions can be degenerative.

Flat Feet

Flat feet tend to differ by age. For children, flat feet are very common and rarely abnormal. Many children under six years years old seem to have flat feet because fat tissue fills the footbridge. Fallen arches in children are asymptomatic and do not usually require treatment. Orthopedic shoes, physical therapy and templates have little effect on young children, however adolescents and older children with painful flat feet should consider orthopedic treatment.

Acquired flatfeet in adulthood may need early treatment, so the problem does not get worse. This occurs when the posterior tibial tendon (located in the ankle and responsible for providing arch support) is broken or weakened, resulting in a progressive collapse of the arch. Causes include age, traumatic or systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Even though, initially this problem is not painful, if it progresses, you may experience pain on the outside of the ankle, knee or lower back, plus difficulty walking or climbing stairs.The more you ignore the condition, the more complicated the surgery becomes, so it is very important to recognize it at an early stage.

The first treatment is usually physical therapy, and to be advised on comfortable shoes with special insoles to relieve the inflamed tendon strain or injury. Fashionable shoes may have to be left at home for a while during the healing process.

If these nonsurgical methods don't work, then surgery will be considered as the next option. The type of surgery depends on the severity of the condition and location of symptoms. It may be a tendon transfer. Additional procedures may also be required such as arthrodesis (fusion) of the affected joints or an osteotomy of the calcaneus (heel bone). None of these procedures are performed for cosmetic reasons, it is more as pain management.


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      How to treat bunions and flat feet interesting about flat feet my son was told he had flat feet when he was in junior school but all is fine another of your great hubs.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

      Living in Japan, it seems that woman definitely think fashion before comfort, and so even out side work girls wear some very uncomfortable looking shoes and suffer the consequences. In general, the woman here who wear softer more casual shoes (there are many for business) tend to have cuter feet. I believe women who never wear heals have the cutest softest feet but we have to think about fashion sometimes. I guess a week or so of recovering from surgery - depending on the type will be worth it in the end.

    • Laura Schneider profile image

      Laura Schneider 4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      I have bunions from a career full of high heels. Interesting information--I could use a whole article just devoted to bunions, however, since you just scratched the surface here. I'd obviously like to avoid surgery, and am experiencing no pain from the bunions as of yet, but they're getting worse steadily so it's just a matter of time. Also, what can I expect with bunion surgery (which seems inevitable at some point in my future): recovery period, shoe requirements, etc. Help? Advice? As a very short woman in a professional job, however, I've felt it necessary to wear medium to high heels my whole career to compete, so I am loathe to simply set them aside any earlier than I have to. :-) (I know, I should, but appearances really do make/break deals.)

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 4 years ago from Texas

      Interesting information! Voted up and useful! :)

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

      Thanks, it can be very painful for some.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very informative. Horrible problem and such a shame.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

      Thanks, yes it is hard to find info sometimes.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      I've known several people with bunions. Never remember reading anything on it before. Good information to know. Thanks.