Bunion surgery should be avoided at all costs

Going under the knife is never a pleasant experience – just ask Joan Rivers. The Queen of Mean may also be able to tell you that the outcome is not always what you hoped it would be. In addition to risks of infection, unsightly scarring and intense pain, surgical procedures have the potential to leave a patient with little to no improvement or, in the worst cases, disfigured.

If your bunions have gotten so bad that they are causing hindered mobility or keep you from donning your favorite pair of Christian Louboutins, the thought of bunion surgery may have crossed your mind. While the operation is recommended in certain cases, you should know exactly what happens during bunion surgery.

The least invasive type of bunion correction involves adjusting the ligaments around the big toe. This entails tightening those on the outer edge of a bunion, and giving inner ligaments a little leeway so that they are not pulling the big toe toward the little ones.

I don't know about you guys, but I'm already feeling a little queasy thinking about all of this pulling and cutting of ligaments. We haven't even gotten to the stuff involving pins and bones yet. But, moving on!

There are several types of osteotomy surgery, all variations that involve cutting into affected bone or joint components and pinning the big toe into proper position. This ranges from small, v-shaped cuts to carving out a crescent shape at the base of the metatarsal where it meets with the toe.

A resection arthroplasty consists of removing portions of the affected big toe joint, and letting your body's healing system do its thing, creating flexible scar tissue that would essentially serve as your new joint.

A procedure known as arthrodesis involves scraping away the damaged portions of the big toe joint, and replacing the parts with screws, plates and wires. How disgusting is that? This is what's thought of as a last resort bunion treatment, when arthritis or deformity has gotten so bad that other operations have failed.

For ladies who wish to avoid having a Franken-foot, bunion splints or orthotics may be an effective, non-invasive alternative. They work by supporting the foot, thereby taking stress off the metatarsal joint. Additionally, splints work to hold the big toe joint in place, which has been shown to gradually reduce the appearance of the bony deformity.  

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Athletes may have perfect bodies, but their feet are a different story

In the midst of the U.S. Open, the New York Times ran an article about the bunioned and blistered feet of tennis' beautiful stars. The problem extends far beyond tennis players, affecting many who dance and run, as well as those who give their all playing soccer, basketball, baseball and hockey.

The broken, bruised toenails, sprained ankles, fallen arches, bunions and stress fractures are surely a pain, but for those who are passionate about their sport, it's all for the love of the game.

The Times article described one U.S. Open star as having feet that "resemble fresh hamburger" by the time a match is finished.

“I’ve always said the best way a tennis player knows his significant other really loves him is if that person sees his feet and still stays with him,” said former tennis player Justin Gimelstob, quoted by the news source. “No tennis player wants to reveal what’s under those socks.”

Moreover, it seems as though the problem is getting worse. A 1991 U.S. Open finalist told the Times that athletes today move faster, which means harder stopping and more stress on the feet and ankles. This, combined with imbalanced biomechanics, is the kind of motion that often leads to bunions or hammer toe.

Ballet dancers experience the foot conditions as a result of pointe and the shoes that are required for such gravity-defying acts. Runners who pronate or wear improper footwear are prone to bunions and hammer toe due to a lack of support and repeated motion that puts stress on the metatarsal bone. Other sports players experience similar issues relating to landing mechanics and footwear.

So what is an athlete to do? Well, bunion surgery is not a great option. The British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society reports that the operation often results in a stiff big toe, which may only be a slight drawback to the normal person but can severely affect performance for a dancer or athlete. Additionally, a National Institutes of Health study revealed that the best course of action for people who play sports is conservative treatment. However, when the big toe becomes incongruous with the metatarsal bone, bunion surgery may be the only option.

As a result, athletes who develop bunions or hammer toe – or those at risk of the bony deformity – should invest in bunion splints or orthotics, which have been known to prevent or correct the foot conditions without the need for bunion surgery. Additionally, the devices have been shown to help feet heal properly following a bunion operation.  

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Yet another ill effect of aging: bunion and hammer toe

Don't us women have all the luck? As men age, they get distinguished gray hair, promotions at work and younger ladies still find them attractive. As women age, we get wrinkles, bunions and hammer toe.

Earlier this year, researchers at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia released a damning study for many aging women. The team of scientists examined the foot health of more than 2,800 individuals and found that 36 percent of them had some degree of hallux valgus, otherwise known as the dreaded bunion. Moreover, the bony deformity was found to occur most often in women and appeared to advance with age.

Lovely. Oh, and did I mention that the researchers also found that bunions can have a negative impact on an individual's quality of life? This happens when the big toe leans so far toward its smaller counterparts that it causes hammer toe: a condition characterized by toes taking on a claw-like formation. The two conditions combined can have a major impact on mobility, not to mention a woman's ability to wear pretty shoes.

"Our findings indicate that hallux valgus is a significant and disabling musculoskeletal condition that affects overall quality of life," said lead researcher. "Interventions to correct or slow the progression of the deformity offer patients beneficial outcomes beyond merely localized pain relief."

So, what are these interventions? Well, they range from non-invasive bunion splints or orthotics to the very painful, costly bunion surgery.

Bunion splints and orthotics work by ensuring proper distribution of pressure on the foot, which can take some of the stress off of the metatarsal joint. Additionally, splints hold the joint of the big toe in place, reversing the outward movement of the bunion. Orthotics can be especially helpful when it comes to treating hammer toe, since they can coax the baby toes into a straighter position.

What about bunion surgery, you ask? The operation is really only recommended for individuals who have severely hindered mobility as a result of their bunions. The procedure can sometimes result in an unsightly over-correction of bunions or recurrence of the deformity, and does nothing to treat hammer toe – that's a whole other surgery altogether. Additionally, as with all operations, patients risk infection and further pain.  

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Those bargain pumps may be easy your wallet, but come with the hidden cost of bunions

We've all been there: Perusing the shops for practical items like underwear or work pants, when all of a sudden, you spot a pair of the most fabulously trendy pumps or wedges, and they're only $29.99! A tempting purchase, especially when you compare them to the Christian Louboutin's or Manolo Blahnik's that they were modeled after.

But on top of the fact that you probably don't need another pair of shoes that are sure to go out of style within a season or two, these cheap shoes are likely to be made, well, cheaply. Often, expensive shoes come with a hefty price tag because they're crafted with fine-quality leather and have been designed to provide both comfort and style to the wearer.

Conversely, bargain pumps likely consist of man-made materials, which means they are likely to suffocate your feet and lead to a smelly situation. Additionally, cheap shoes sometimes have poorly placed seams on the interior, which can rub the skin and cause blisters and scarring after just a few hours. It's also probable that there was little thought put into the design or proportion of the shoe, so they may end up pinching your toes and making your bunions appear even larger and more inflamed.

However, you have some options to stay trendy and keep your wallet padded while avoiding the onset or advancement of bunions or hammer toe.

First, consider saving your ultra-trendy bargain pumps for events where you won't be on your feet for long. You can also bring a pair of flats along in your bag, giving you an excuse to break out that extra large Marc Jacobs beauty that you splurged on.

Additionally, it is possible to find quality shoes at low prices. There is now a host of weekly deal websites that offer discounts for designer goods, as well as the tried-and-true Overstock.com and Bluefly.com. It could also pay off to take the extra time sifting through clearance racks at department stores, since they often contain hidden gems.

Finally, bunion splints or orthotics are inexpensive, non-invasive devices that may help prevent or reduce the appearance of bunions or hammer toe. These can also help wearers avoid painful and costly bunion surgery, which comes with risks of infection or scarring.  

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Where’d she get those bunions from? She got ’em from her mama

Looking for someone to blame for your red, calloused bunions that keep you from wearing towering peep-toes? Search no further than your family tree, because it's very likely that the bony deformity is a hereditary condition.

While it's true that ill-fitting shoes, imbalanced landing mechanics, playing sports and dancing can exacerbate bunions – and perhaps even be a main cause in certain cases – research suggests that bunions are the result of a flaw in the metatarsal joint, pointing to genetic causation.

However, don't fret – and certainly don't stop sending your mother birthday cards – because there are many non-invasive ways to treat your bunions or hammer toe without going through that ghastly operation. Bunion surgery is known to cause scarring and can potentially lead to bunion recurrence, infection or an over-correction that may be even more unsightly than your original problem. Moreover, the procedure can cost as much as $4,000 and may not be covered under all insurance plans, which could make a major dent in your shoe budget.

So, what should you do about your unwanted inheritance? Bunion splints and orthotics are good options, since they correct the bony deformity gradually and without scalpels and anesthesia. In order to get the best of both worlds, you may want to try using the Bunion Aid by Alpha Orthotics when you're sleeping or lounging at home, and try the maker's Splayfoot/Hammer Toe Insole during the day. The splint will work to hold the metatarsal bone in place, reversing the bunion's progression, while the daytime orthotic can help distribute pressure evenly on the foot, taking some stress off of the big toe joint.

For immediate relief of bunion pain, consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), like aspirin or ibuprofen. The medications can help to alleviate discomfort while also reducing redness and inflammation. Additionally, icing or padding bunions can help numb pain and provide a barrier for rubbing, respectively.

Remember that while your mother or grandmother may have given you bunions, they are dealing with much worse conditions than you, since the deformity advances with age. As a result, maybe you should consider bunion splints or orthotics for a great Christmas or Mother's Day gift.  

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Rose McGowan the latest celebrity to suffer foot pain in the name of high heels

Celebrities are under enormous pressure to appear tall, thin and fashionable at all times. As a result, many turn to towering pumps, wedges, platforms and boots in an effort to remain a head above the rest at the cost of their foot health. Bunions, hammer toe, fractures and fallen arches are all endured in the name of fashion.

Recently, actress Rose McGowan told the press that she has a hairline fracture in her baby toe as a result of wearing high heels for extended periods of time daily. Luckily, the star had the know-how to fashion a makeshift splint for her injury.

"Heels. I collapsed after three days [of wear], about 14 to 15 hours of heels per day," McGowan said, quoted by People magazine. "All I did was bind my toes together with extra Band-Aids and a quarter of a popsicle stick."

According to the news source, the actress scoffed at the idea of wearing flats to events, demonstrating the loyalty that some ladies have to these foot torture devices they call shoes.

Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) contestant and talk show host Ricki Lake has already been taking to Twitter with reports of a twisted ankle. While the actress didn't reveal how it happened, it's probably safe to guess that it was a result of doing some fancy footwork while wearing heels, the shoe of choice for DWTS ladies.

Additionally, Victoria Beckham, Amy Adams, Oprah, Naomi Campbell, Brooke Shields and Iman all reportedly have – or had – the bony deformity known as a bunion. What else do these stars have in common? A penchant for towering, toe-pinching heels. Coincidence? I think not.

Of these celebrities, only two are known to have gone under the knife for painful bunion surgery: Beckham and Shields.

In 2008, Shields, who apparently also had hammer toes, was photographed hobbling around town on crutches with braces on each foot after undergoing the surgery.

According to a 2007 Daily Mail report, Beckham waited until moving to the U.S. to have her bunion surgery, which she developed after years of trotting around on stage as Posh Spice in stilettos.

Perhaps these ladies would do well to invest their money in bunion splints or orthotics, rather than shoes that will only exacerbate their pain. These devices are known to help correct unsightly foot deformities without the need for invasive bunion surgery.  

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Some high heels can be tolerable for the bunion-afflicted

For fashionable women, a bunion diagnosis may come as heartbreaking news. But don't let your mascara-tinted tears stain that new Louis Vuitton blouse. Dry your eye, because you can still wear your beloved high heels, you just may have to do a little more shopping. That's not such a bad thing, though, is it?

If you've been scouring the web for advice on picking out shoes that won't exacerbate your bunions or put you in so much pain that you're relegated to – gasp! – ballet flats, you already know that a wide toe box, arch support and a thick heel are key in accommodating your bony deformity.

Lifestyle blog Corporette has a guide to high heels that will allow you to look like a towering goddess. But be warned: Many of them come with a hefty price tag.

First up, the blog writers recommend the three wise men of high-end shoe designers: Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin. These heels may set you back a paycheck or two, but they are also crafted with quality in mind, meaning better arch support and soft, seam-free interiors. Additionally, unlike cheap knockoffs, these designers know that three inches is the key to both comfort and style in heel height. Most podiatrists recommend a heel no higher than 2.5 inches, so you can tell your doctor a little white lie, since half an inch isn't so bad.

Slightly less expensive, but still an investment at about $320 per pair, is the Cole Haan Air brand. Imagine that a sleek leather pump and a sneaker had a baby. This shoe would be it, with its Nike Air technology embedded in the sole, buttery leather exterior and classic peep-toe design.

Style and entertainment blog The Frisky reminds its readers not to forget that oxford heels and towering booties are fashionable and perfect to coordinate with fall ensembles. Certain styles provide ample room – not to mention coverage – for bunions, and give more stability because of ankle and arch support.

Does the news of these bunion-friendly shoes only cheer you up slightly? Well maybe you'll be happy to know that bunion splints or orthotics can help prevent, correct or halt the progression of bunions or hammer toe, without the need for painful, costly bunion surgery.  

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Bunions are a pain in the foot, but there are ways to alleviate discomfort

If you have bunions, you're likely familiar with the redness, pain, inflammation and tenderness they can cause. While the discomfort can be enough to have you considering bunion surgery, you should know that the operation can sometimes lead to further pain, in addition to other risks that come along with invasive procedures.

In order to obtain immediate relief, you may want to consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or aspirin. These medications may help to reduce discomfort and can also alleviate redness and swelling. Topical pain relievers may also help treat the condition locally, which may be especially helpful to people who like to avoid drugs.

For temporary relief following a particularly strenuous day, you may want to try icing your bunions or hammer toe. This can feel really good on sore, inflamed bunions, helping to bring down swelling and dulling any pain or tenderness.

However, these treatments will likely only be effective for a few hours at a time. As a result, you should take into consideration the type of footwear you're sporting on a daily basis, since it may be exacerbating bunion pain.

Take high heels, for example. The elevated heel and narrow toe box is a surefire way to rub bunions the wrong way, literally. If the towering footwear is a must for you, consider carrying a pair of flats in your bag to slip on when discomfort gets intense. Otherwise, search for a pair of shoes with a wide toe box, like a loafer, clog or boat shoe, that will give your toes ample room. You should also try to keep heel height to a maximum of 2.5 inches for comfort and stability.

If you've chosen the right footwear and still feel rubbing against your bunions, consider using gel pads or moleskin directly on the affected area. This will provide a barrier between your sore spots and the interior of your shoe.

Last, but certainly not least, consider using bunion splints or orthotics to get to the root of the problem. The devices work by supporting the foot where it needs it, distributing even pressure on the forefoot and holding the joint of the big toe in place. 

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ABC announces DWTS cast, may want to consider an investment in bunion splints

Reality stars and fashion gurus and television hosts, oh my! The new cast of Dancing With the Stars (DWTS) has been announced, and it appears as though we may be in for an entertaining season.

ABC reports that actor David Arquette, Cher's son Chaz Bono, fashion expert Carson Kressley, basketball player Ron Artest, George Clooney's ex-girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis, reality star Kristin Cavallari, actress Ricki Lake, actor J.R. Martinez, former wrestler Chynna Phillips, soccer player Hope Solo, Headline News host Nancy Grace and aspiring model Rob Kardashian will all be strutting their stuff in the upcoming season beginning Sept. 19.

Let's all take a minute to absorb that and think about Nancy Grace and Ron Artest doing the cha cha. Good stuff, right?

While the seemingly diverse group of celebrities may have earned their star status in different ways, I'm betting ABC chose them because of one common factor: their likelihood to cause drama. You didn't think I was going to say dancing ability, did you?

But, dance they will. If they're anything like previous contestants, they may all be in need of bunion splints and casts when they're through. Talk show host Wendy Williams and Kelly Osbourne, daughter of rocker Ozzy, were on earlier seasons of DWTS, and both have publicly complained of their bunions. Additionally, dancer Kym Johnson and actor Ryan O'Neal reportedly sustained injuries during their stints on the show.

Unfortunately for Carson Kressley, he'll be getting off on a bad foot, so to speak.

"I know you have to work incredibly hard. And I was telling Anna, 'I have two left feet and one of them has a bunion,'" Kressley said on Good Morning America. "If we have to practice eight hours to be good, I want to practice 20 hours. We're going to be inseparable."

Well, Carson, I hate to break it to you, but going on DWTS probably won't do anything to help your bunion. The medical journal Clinics in Sports Medicine reports that the forces placed on the first metatarsophalangeal joint help bunions thrive and grow, like a fame-seeker in the limelight.

Bunion surgery is not a great option for dancers, since it hinders flexibility and movement in the joint of the big toe, which would make for a rather clumsy samba, I believe.

Instead, perhaps Kressley and any other cast members currently hiding their bunions should try using the Bunion Aid by Alpha Orthotics. The bunion splint has a hinged design to allow users to walk while correcting their bunions or hammer toe.