Woman’s foot ‘balloons’ after bunion surgery – Yikes!

If you read my blog regularly, you know I am no fan of a complicated bunion surgery, and this recent story from the Ottawa Citizen is giving me even more reason to be wary about going under the knife. After years of dealing with my pesky bunion, I think I could spare a few more after hearing these gory details.

According to the Citizen, poor Sandra McDonald, a regular middle-aged lady, just like me thought it might be a good idea to have her bunion removed, even though you and I know that this is not always a good idea. Bunions are known to come back after bunion surgery like a bitter ex-boyfriend.

Anyway, McDonald worked for the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, and she loved her job, so she was bummed that she was going to have to take six to eight weeks off to recover from her bunion surgery. Personally, I can think of better ways to spend my time and money, like shoe shopping, but to each her own, I guess. Poor Sandra was in for a shock, however; since she was on long-term disability, the embassy was supposed to keep her job open for one year. No problem, right? Ladies recover just fine from bunion surgeries … or do they? 

Two weeks after her surgery, McDonald felt a burning sensation in her left foot. This pain was even even worse than anything she had experienced with her bunion (which is hard to imagine). The source even compared her post-op swelling to a balloon – Eeek! Sandra was out of work so long trying to cope with her mangled foot that she was eventually – and unfairly – fired. 

"My whole life completely changed, " she told the Citizen. "My independence was gone; my whole life revolved around 'the foot,' and trying to cope with that pain."

Ok, ladies. I know that your bunion is annoying and unattractive and may keep you from wearing certain shoes, like heels. But really? Is a bunionectomy really worth all of this trouble? According to the Foot and Ankle Institute, this irritating foot condition is known to come back  even after surgery, so what's a girl to do about her bunion?

Since poor Sandra worked with U.S. Embassy so long, she eventually filed a lawsuit and won. However, even though much time has passed, she is still unable to walk or stand for prolonged periods of time. Ladies, don't let a bunion surgery keep you from living your life. I have found that an anti-inflammatory, my trusty flexible hinged bunion splint and a large glass of wine usually does the trick when it comes to bunion pain.

Traveling to Europe? Don’t forget about your bunion

It's every woman's dream: A vacation in Paris. You arrive at your hotel near the Champs-Élysées looking stunning in your 4-inch stilettos, tip the cabbie and discover to your horror that there is no elevator in your 19th century-era loft. 

The agony of da feet
Your bunion is screaming already. With every move up the steep stairs to your luxury hotel room, your regret for not packing more comfortable shoes for your hammertoes begins to weigh heavier and heavier. This is a common dilemma with many jet-setting females. You are on a European vacation, you finally dropped those stubborn five pounds and you are ready to hit the streets in your fabulous new heels. However, walking along European streets is no picnic, even in flats. After many trips abroad, I can assure you that those charming cobblestone roads will do more damage to your feet than I even realized.

According to the Conde Nast Traveler, packing comfortable shoes is essential for any trip abroad. Many cities in Europe – like London, Paris and Rome – have ancient corridors, twists and turns and side streets that are only accessible on foot, so it is important to make sure that you aren't sore and pulpy by noon. Take it from the locals: In the movies, it may seem like all the ladies in Europe are wearing sky-high Louboutins to dinner. I know that in reality, these ladies understand that comfort is key when it comes to the heavy foot traffic in these cities.

Tips for not looking dowdy on vacation
You may be thinking, "Bunion-Ella, the last thing I want to look like in these posh, sophisticated cities is an average American in sneakers." Not to worry! There are ways to leave your foot pain stateside and blend in with an international crowd. Unless you plan on sitting in traffic in expensive cabs all night in throbbing pain, I would suggest leaving the heels at home. There are plenty of internationally-friendly and sharp-looking flats and boots with proper arch support that will keep away a bunion and allow you to traverse the globe in style.

If you already suffer from a bunion, don't let a fabulous trip abroad be out of your reach. There are plenty of orthotics and shoe inserts that fit into any style of shoe. These devices allow you to look and feel fabulous while traveling without your feet getting mangled from all the walking and stair climbing that you will certainly do in many European cities. Bon voyage, and don't forget your Bunion Aid.    

Women getting foot tattoos to cover up their bunions

Some women will go to great lengths to conceal the less-than-perfect parts of their body, including their bunions and hammertoes. In a new twist, doctors are now seeing tattoos large and small alike that are gracing the toes of many of their patients.

Getting inked on your feet?
According to the Huffington Post, Neal M. Blitz, DPM, has seen his fair share of names, flowers and vines, stars and ancient oriental phrases on many female's feet across the years as a foot doctor in New York. He says that some women consider the tattoos the perfect fashion accessory for their favorite pair of sandals. Many believe ink on their feet is just plain sexy, and others regret that wild night on Spring Break many years ago and want their tattoos removed.

Blitz also says that many women seek tattoos on their feet to hide their worst foot impediments as well. He even went as far as to say that some ladies believe that getting their man's name etched across the ball of their feet will detract attention from embarrassing foot issues, like bunions. However, I think a foot insert is a far less permanent solution to this problem. Women with flat feet have been known to get different designs drawn on their arches to make their feet look more concave. He has even seen women with webbed toes get lines drawn between them to hide their unfortunate foot ailments. I guess the gauge between tacky and sexy is a fine line, but their are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering getting a foot tattoo to mask your bunions.

For your consideration
I know as well as you do that feet get a lot of wear and tear after all of these years, so your favorite artwork could result disfiguration and fading over time. Some tattoo artists have even been known to refuse to ink people's feet because of it. Also, because of the many bones and nerve endings in feet, these tattoos are not exactly a walk in the park. Everyone's pain threshold is different, but a tattoo on your foot could be a particularly unpleasant experience.

Tattoo removal is difficult anywhere on the body but particularly difficult with feet, so make sure your artwork is something you don't mind having on your body for awhile. If you are looking to tattoos to shy away attention to your bunion, the use of an orthotic is a far less expensive, intrusive and permanent solution to stop a bunion's development. 10 years from now, no one will remember your foot device, but tattoos are for life.

Could acupuncture ease your bunion pain?

Eastern medicine has been a controversial subject in the Western world for a long time, but 3 million Americans have found that this age-old medicinal therapy can reduce pain in nearly everything – from migraines to bunions.

On pins and needles
It may seem counterproductive to stick needles into a part of the body that is already experiencing throbbing pain, but according to The New York Times, there is now sound proof that patients who experience chronic pain use this practice as an effective and popular treatment. There is also government data that suggests acupuncture is a growing therapeutic practice for children as well, according to the Times.

Acupuncture may look and sound like a complicated procedure, but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of this therapeutic practice, it is really quite simple. When you go to an acupuncture specialist, a trained professional will insert needles where bunions hurt the worst – your big toe. In theory, these needles with stimulate so-called acupoints that are widely believed to release pain-relieving enzymes. After a study of 18,000 patients, doctors are now recognizing that there could be sizable benefits in practicing acupuncture, which may mean relief for your bunion

This simple practice was dismissed as hippie nonsense when it was first introduced into the medical world decades ago. However, times are a'changing because this Eastern pain therapy is among the most widely-practiced forms of alternative medicine in the country, and acupuncture is now offered by many hospitals and insurance plans for those seeking pain relief.

What this means for your bunions
Since the root cause of bunions can come from different forms of arthritis, the Japanese have been using acupuncture on feet for centuries to relieve sore achy joints. According to Acupuncture Today, they even have a nickname for bunions: sugar toes. Until scientific research proved otherwise, many Eastern cultures believed that too many sweets were the main cause of bunion pain. The source explained that the first time can produce tenderness in the toes, but once the body responds to the acu-points, many patients have experienced pain relief.

Like many podiatrists who prescribe orthotics, acupuncturists agree that surgery can oftentimes be an ineffective, painful and costly option. Since acupuncture can be an effective pain reliever but can't slow down the growth of bunions, pairing these two alternative methods together could help you make your foot problems a distant memory.


It’s in the way that you walk

Rock stars for decades have been writing songs and singing about their girl's wiggle when she walks, but what if your gait revealed more about you than just a sexy strut? U.S. health researchers say that your bum and glutes can reveal a lot about your health, whether it be good, bad or ugly.

Do you have that swagger?
According to the bunion-obsessed Daily Mail, the all-too-popular "swagger" that men and women use to show off their legs and butt can lead to back pain. Whenever we take a step forward our pelvises have to stabilize to to keep the entire body straight and legs stable, or else we can take an embarrassing tumble. Although it may be tempting to show off your backside, swaggering can twist your back and cause stiffness.

If you are a city-dweller, you know the utter frustration of being behind a slow walker when you are late for a lunch or appointment. It also turns out that taking your sweet time while walking is a sign of everything from shorter life expectancy, diabetes, arthritis and dementia. According to the source, a University of Pittsburgh study revealed that those that walk slower than 2 feet per second had an increased risk of dying sooner than those who walked faster than 3.3 feet per second. So when you are window shopping, pick up the pace and you may stretch how long you live and lower your risk of a bunion by avoiding conditions like diabetes.

The climb
If you suffer from bunions, you know that one of the most annoying early warning signs is the inability to walk up stairs. Even if you have no sign of any bumps, the pain you feel as you climb indicate that there are already erosive changes happen in your metatarsal bone.

Mike O'Neill, a consulting podiatrist for the Daily Mail said, "As the big toe bends going up and down stairs, the surfaces of the joints are grinding together." If you are having to stop halfway up a flight, it may be time to invest into a splint or orthotic to keep your bunion from developing into something more serious. The last thing you want is a bunion surgery keeping you from more shopping and time with your girlfriends.

If you already have a bunion, changing the way you shake it could be helpful as well. Placing less pressure on your big toe could help. Oh, and take a hint from bunion-sufferer Victoria Beckham and save those heels for your nights out.

Nike teams up with Foot Locker for new business concept

It's a new year for the NFL, and this means millions of Americans will be plastered to their TV screens from September to February, and I am no different. Because I have an eye for shoewear, this past Sunday I noticed something a bit different gracing the feet of the players on the gridiron, the all-powerful Nike swoosh.

A new chapter for Nike
For years, Reebook was the shoewear giant that gave arch support to linebackers and quarterbacks, but since its contract was up this year, Nike has wisely swooped in and taken charge of something any shoe company would be thrilled to do: Outfitting the most successful sports franchise in the world. This not only means new sneakers and cleats, but a totally new branding campaign and retail concept.

This could be the biggest launch Nike has done since the Air Jordan campaign, and that is saying something. Nike has always been one of the largest athletic shoe retailers in the biz, so it makes sense that they reeled in a big fish like the NFL. Although it has been known in the sports media that Nike was going to be gracing the feet of offensive and defensive lines from coast to coast, their new retail concept with Foot Locker sent shockwaves to those in the shoe business.

Brand recognition on and off the field
Until recently, Nike shoes could only be purchased in specialty shoe stores like Foot Locker or department chains. But according to the Portland Business Journal, Nike is on the path to owning its own shoe chain that will exclusively sell mall-based, football-related merchandise aptly named Yardline. If this all sounds familiar, you are not far off. Nike launched a similar shoe branding chain called House of Hoops after its success with the Air Jordan line and other performance gear for NBA players.

The success of the NFL has grown exponentially in the past 10 years. Heck, it even has its own network now, so it was just a matter of time before Nike would try to get a piece of the pie. The first store opened in New Jersey, and although Nike was staying mum about the extent of the expansion in a press release, execs and shareholders in Nike and Foot Locker are probably thrilled about this new concept.

When athletic shoes aren't enough for NFL players' foot problems this season, I expect to see many sports splints and orthotics on the field as well. Game on. 

Snazzy shoes that avoid pain in the feet for baby boomers

New York is gearing up for fashion week, and while many businesses are looking at what everyone will be wearing next spring, retailers are wrestling with the challenges of marketing fall flats that are comfortable but sexy to a generation that made the stiletto famous.

It's a complicated predicament. On the one hand, you have millions of people who grew up in the 60's who are now entering retirement with plenty of cash to spend. With the memories of go-go boots and platforms still fresh in the minds of older Americans, most fashion designers make shoes that bring on the bunions for these customers – but why? Even the aging boomers who swore by their stilettos are starting to change their tune.

"When a woman puts on a pair of shoes in the morning, she's making a commitment that's going to last all day," Kenneth Cole recently told Elle magazine. Although younger women typically consider their shoes just another accessory to their outfit, us older ladies know that a shoe's primary function is to protect our feet from the elements. Although the boomers may have perfected the art of running in heels or spending an eight-hour day in the office in stilettos, seniors are looking for hot footwear options that aren't going to leave their dogs barking at the end of the day.

The key to optimal foot health for us ladies is buying shoes that are fit in our heel, have a wide toe box and provide excellent arch support. If you buy shoes that are too small or tight on your toes, the metatarsal bones in your toes will hate you for it later. Everything from bunions, corns and blisters will rear their ugly heads and make a simple walk in the park an agonizing experience.

However, buying shoes that are too large are also potentially dangerous as well. According to Forbes Magazine, Meryl Streep's famous tumble in her Jimmy Choo pumps to receive her British Academy of Film and Television Arts award was caused by shoes that were too big. And, NYC cops are now investigating the death of a woman who died after falling down the stairs due to "really high heels." Who would have thought that foot problems would have caused something like that?

If you can't help but show off your gorgeous gams, there are foot-friendly options that have height but still offer more cushion and arch support. Wedges, kitten heels and lower, chunky-heeled shoes are all making a fashion comeback and keep your feet happy.