Serena Williams’ mysterious foot pain keeps her from playing the U.S. Open

Still basking in the glow of her stunning gold medal wins in both singles and doubles at this year's London Olympic Games, many in the sports world are raising a few eyebrows when it comes to Serena Williams' mysterious foot surgery.

Out of the loop
According to The New York Times, Serena is sitting out America's most prized tennis tournament due to medical instructions from her podiatrist. However, she and her sister, Venus, are remaining decidedly mum on any details regarding the injury she sustained in a German restaurant after celebrating her 13th Grand Slam title win at Wimbledon this past summer.

"Serena released as much information that she wanted to about her leg," Venus told the Times. "Traditionally, we don't say much about injuries. … We don't need anybody to feel sorry for us about it."

Despite going to bat for her sister, gossip in the tennis world still persists about what exactly happened in London last month that is keeping Serena, arguably one of the world's most famous sports stars, out of competition in New York. Could Serena be keeping a bunion surgery under wraps? Who knows? Rumors have circulated that while celebrating her Wimbledon win the tennis star stepped on broken glass, a claim her agent and spokeswoman Jim Smoller firmly denies.

A history of no-shows
Some have even suggested that this injury isn't even an injury at all. Apparently this isn't the first time the famous sisters have had scheduling problems with various tennis matches. In his six years as chief executive of the Women's Tennis Association, Larry Scott had more than enough drama with the Williams' forthcoming claims regarding foot pain.

"It was continuously surrounding them," he said, "But you're always in a gray area and you never want to accuse an athlete of faking an injury. In the end, you're really relying on the athlete."

The world's No. 1 women's tennis player has been seen in her orthotic at various social events for the U.S. Open in New York. Whether or not Serena will join her colleagues for any matches in near future remains to be seen. If her surgery was indeed legitimate, she may be in her boot for a while. Invasive foot operations like a bunionectomy can leave you in an orthotic for up to six weeks, which may mean we won't see one of the world's greatest tennis stars in action until next year's Grand Slam season.

Manolo Blahnik even admits it: Flats are in for fall fashion

School is back in session, cardigans and sweaters are donning every mannequin when I window shop and those cool night breezes make me grab my blanket when I hit the sack at night. It can only mean one thing – fall is finally here.

Putting your best fashion foot forward
We all know that girls love their shoes, but unfortunately this past year's obsession with stilettos and flip-flops haven't been the best news for us gals looking for bunion relief. Many women are sacrificing their foot health to join the ranks of Hollywood starlets and New York models who never leave the house without at least a 3-inch Louboutin.

Thankfully, the fashion gods have discovered that arch support is important, because the previews for this year's fall shoe fashion are nothing but flats. Even Manolo Blahnik, a designer known for his sky-high heels is turning his eyes toward flat shoes, something that would have been unfathomable five years ago.

"Any flats that I showed [were] wanted immediately!" Blahnik told the Financial Times, "Two seasons ago, I started to notice a change … whatever flat styles we did almost always sold out."

For all of us with bunions and hammertoes, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. It seems that this season flat styles are going to be flying off the shelves. Designers in London and Paris have even been showing their collection with their models in flats, including Christopher Kane and Stella McCartney in order to appeal to a larger consumer base. Thankfully, women are no longer buying into the fact that we have to sacrifice our foot health to look taller or more fashionable.

Flats are becoming first-class
If you thinking that styles for heel-less shoes are less than fashionable, have patience because you will no longer be carting your "blah" ballerina flats in your handbag for a quick change at work to avoid foot pain.

According to Ruth Lockwood, the lead buyer at New Look, "As studded styling and sports influences come in this winter, flats will be seen as edgy and a genuine alternative, which hasn't been the case in several seasons."

So ladies, save that money you were thinking about putting toward a bunionectomy for an orthotic and some fabulous shoe shopping, because it seems arch support is all the rage this year.

Oprah shows up to set barefoot – and reveals her infamous bunions

You can get advice from the best foot doctors in the world and be worth billions, but it still won't stop a pesky bunion from returning. Oprah has not been shy about her foot issues, and has even been known to kick off her heels on set when the cameras stop rolling due to her painful foot history.

Oprah has a history of pain in the feet
News has died down in recent months regarding Oprah's foot problems, until the 58-year-old was seen in New Orleans on the set of her new film, "The Butler." Oprah has been absent from the movie reels since 1998 when she starred and directed the motion picture "Beloved," but recently felt inspired to play the role of the wife of Eugene Allen, a real-life White House butler who served decades in the White House under several presidents.

Draped in a bosom-revealing ruffled dress, Oprah was carrying a pair of striped flats and walking around the carport barefoot – a risky and revealing decision. Cameras snapped, and there in broad daylight was Oprah's bunion, a thorn in her side for years. Although I like the idea of Oprah's choice in footwear as opposed to the sky-high heels seen frequently on her show, walking around a carport barefoot might reveal why her feet look so rough. (Can you say dry, cracked skin?)

An advocate for orthotics
Although rumors still circulate whether or not Oprah paid for bunion removal, she is obviously still struggling to give her feet the TLC she needs in lieu of her busy schedule. Running her own network, interviewing celebs, starring in a new film and years of killer heels are starting to take their toll.

On her show, she has repeatedly given advice to not go through with a bunionectomy unless you are suffering from an extreme medical condition, something we at the Bunion Blog definitely agree with. Why go through the pain and expense of going under the knife when an orthotic could be just as effective? Hopefully Oprah is relaxing with a good foot soak, enjoying a glass of white wine and putting up her heels in a Bunion Aid, or that hammertoe is just gonna get worse. Besides, with Oprah's jet-setting lifestyle, surgery could put her out of work for months, and knowing her, she wouldn't want anything like a bunion to slow her down.

Kate Middleton’s rare barefoot appearance shows a developing bunion

It's not everyday you get to see a future queen of England's feet, so it is no shock that many were surprised to see a blemish on the toes of the perfectly groomed Kate Middleton.

Celebrities, and even royalty, suffer from the same foot problems we all do. However, if you live  life in front of the camera, no less-than-perfect flaw goes unnoticed, and that is exactly what happened during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Lovely girl, less than lovely feet

During a Judo demonstration that required the Duchess of Cambridge to be barefoot, the public got a chance to see a rare glimpse of the princess' toes, and in turn scrutinize every flaw possible. Redness, bruising, corns and bunions on both feet were all there in plain sight. Maybe the royal budget couldn't account for routine pedicures?

Emma Supple, DPM, told the foot-obsessed Daily Mail that when she first saw the photos of Middleton's feet, she wasn't sure whose they were because they looked like the tired feet of an athlete. Supple indicated that Middleton's busy royal schedule and public appearances since her recent marriage to Prince William, many of which are seen in her trademark LK Bennett nude pumps, might account for the imperfections. Middleton is also suffering from what appears to be flat feet, which will only get worse if her love affair with high heels continues.

Put your royal foot forward

To save yourself from the embarrassment of common foot problems that Kate Middleton is currently experiencing, Supple recommends wearing thicker soled shoes such as wedges if you can't resist those heels. For dryness, tea tree oil is a great way to nourish thirsty heels and cuticles, and it is also contains anti-fungal properties, which could keep your feet from smelling less than fresh.

When it comes to bunion correction, Supple urged readers to not wear heels that are more than 1 inch high. Middleton's bunions appear to be in a stage one grade, so she could benefit from a foot aid such as a night splint to avoid surgery, which could be very debilitating to her busy schedule. Since bunions are an inherited condition, it is likely that the prim and proper Middleton probably got those hammertoes from her mama; however, taking proper care of her feet could keep them from getting worse.

Could stem cell research help with your bunion?

According to researchers from Duke University, there might be a way to make your osteoarthritic foot problems old news.

Joint injuries like hammertoes greatly increase the risk of getting a form of osteoarthritis called post-traumatic arthritis, or PTA. By using a therapeutic approach toward this condition by implementing a type of stem cell called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in mice with fractures, doctors may have found a new way to prevent PTA.

Research that spells relief
This research could give your aching feet a break because osteoarthritis is a contributing factor to the development of bunions. Unfortunately for us ladies, females are more affected by PTA than men, especially if you have flat arches. Here at the Bunion Blog, we already know that bunions are also more common with women, so keep in mind that if you already know you have an osteoarthritic big toe, make sure you are taking steps like using orthotics to keep bunions from developing in your feet.  

What makes the news about this research even more exciting is that researchers thought that a type of mice that had "super-healing properties" (let's all hope they stay in the lab) would fare better with this new method, but they were surprised to find that they were wrong. The regular stem cells worked just as well as the "super-healers," which means that people who typically form stress fractures after an injury will be able to heal just as well from these ailments as anyone else, in theory. According to the study, the delivery of 10,000 normal or super-healer stem cells to the joints prevented PTA by reducing inflammation. We all know that this is closely linked to bunions as well, because inflammation is one of the leading factors with pain.

Skip the surgery
So if you were thinking about a bunionectomy, think again. Not only are bunion surgeries expensive, painful and time-consuming, if this new research indicates that stem cells can prevent osteoarthritic foot joints, you might be able to shake off that hammertoe without going under the knife. The use of Alpha Orthotics coupled with these new therapies could be the answer to preventing hammertoes and bunions from becoming a bigger health risk. Physical therapy to enhance your range of motion could also either prevent a bunion or keep one from coming back.

So cheers to all you Bunion Blog readers out there, because it looks like with the help of science, we are one step closer to even better bunion treatment.

Keep that bunion looking its best this summer

Just because you have bunions doesn't mean you have to skimp on luxury and fashion. Even if you don't have perfect feet, it is important to keep your toes looking and feeling great. If you are on a budget, there are plenty of recession-proof options to keep your toes looking great in your sandals throughout the rest of the summer without those expensive bi-weekly trips to the nail salon.

A proper trim
Every woman should own a nail file and clippers, just as a start. Although I like to leave certain tasks to the professionals – waxing being an example – I always keep a file in my purse to make sure my toes are even and untorn to prevent foot problems. Unlike our fingernails, you can't really get creative when it comes to shaping. After you cut your nails, make sure your toenails are filed straight across. I can't think of anything more irritating and unsightly as an ingrown toenail. So take my advice and never round out your toes, trust me.

If you are like Jennifer Garner or Oprah and suffer from bunions, there are ways to file your big toe safely that can give the illusion of evenly-shaped toes. By buffing your big toenail diagonally ever so slightly so that the inner part of your nail is a smidge higher, it can make your bunion look a little less prominent.

A good soak
I don't know about you, but after a long day of shopping, my bunion is usually killing me. Not only that, but my feet are, let's say … less desirable to look at. The best way I have found to rejuvenate those toes and give myself some much-deserved bunion relief is exfoliation. No need to buy any creams or expensive foot rubs. Most of what you need is already in your kitchen. Coarse sea salt mixed with a small amount of baby oil will do wonders to make the hard skin on your heels and the cuticles around your toenails look brand new.

Even if you spend just 30 minutes a week on taking care of your feet, you can avoid the nail salon all together. You know what this means … more money for shoe shopping! It's amazing what a little TLC can do for your wallet and your bunion if you keep your feet looking fabulous.

‘Medical pedicures’ and foot spas are on the rise

Ah, the glorious pedicure. A welcome oasis for any woman after a long day of being on your feet.

For many years, foot spas have been not only a haven to dish the latest gossip or relax with a glass of wine, they are usually one of the few places women feel comfortable discussing various foot issues like bunions. Well ladies, the times they are a'changing, and it seems more men are giving their toes some TLC these days, but on their own unique terms.

A pedicure from a podiatrist

According to The Telegraph, foot doctors in Britain are offering what they are calling "medical pedicures," and for one podiatrist, 35 percent of her clientele are men. The procedure is not unlike what we ladies experience at a run-of-the-mill salon. Clipping, filing, buffing, removing calluses, etc. – they are all done here, except a scalpel is used instead of a razor (yikes!).

"A lot of guys like the privacy of their own treatment room," explained Angela Tsoumanis, a principal podiatrist at the Margaret Dobbs Mayfair Clinic.

Perhaps men are more shy about their feet? Maybe a nail salon teeming with talkative women might be a bit intimidating? Or perhaps, men regard their foot pain to be a private matter.

​For ladies, foot care is a social matter 

For many women, however, a trip to a traditional foot spa is killing two birds with one stone. Where else can you tackle those foot problems and dish about your bad date with your best friend? Perhaps for women, it seems that this trend is here to stay, too, and not just for cosmetic reasons.

According to MSNBC, the rise of the modern spa has become intertwined with the medical field in recent years. Many consumers are seeking out holistic treatments at foot spas because of chronic joint pain, fibromyalgia and arthritis, and pain in the feet. I mean, come on, there really is nothing better than a foot massage from a professional, am I right?

Although these new medical procedures are already established in Great Britain, medical spas are relatively new to the United States. However, trends show that the number of these spas have doubled in recent years. The United States now has 471, and that number is expected to grow.

President of Spa Finder Inc., Susie Ellis told MSNBC, "consumers want the expertise of the medical community, but they love the spa environment."

It seems the modern foot spa is here to stay, so order that glass of red wine don't forget to moisturize.