88% of US Women Wear the Wrong Size Shoes

A study by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found that 88% of women in the United States wear shoes that are too small and 55% have bunions.

Bunions are nine times more common in women than men. The most common cause of bunions is the prolonged wearing of poorly fitting shoes, usually those with a narrow, pointed toe box that squeezes the toes into an unnatural position. Bunions also may be caused by arthritis or polio: a sometimes painful structural deformity of the bones and the joint between the foot and big toe.

The big toe may turn in toward the second toe and tissues around the joint may be swollen or tender, causing a bump on the side of the big toe.

Prevention: You can keep bunions from growing painful often by switching to shoes that fit properly and don't compress the toes.

Some advice from foot experts at Penn State College of Medicine: Don't select shoes by size because sizes can vary by brands and styles. Judge the shoe by how it fits on your foot. Get shoes that conform as nearly as possible to the shape of your foot. Make sure the toe box is big enough.

Dealing with bunions: Some shoes can be modified by stretching the areas that put pressure on your toes.

Splints to reposition the big toe and orthotics (special shoe inserts shaped to your feet) also may relieve pain. For bunions caused by arthritis, medications can be prescribed to reduce pain and swelling.

Surgery: If non-surgical treatment fails and you have severe foot pain, swelling or stiffness, you may want to consider surgery.

There's a six- to eight-week recovery period. Be aware that bunion surgery can reduce pain and align toes better, but it will not allow you to wear a smaller shoe size or narrow, pointed shoes.

In fact, you'll have some shoe restrictions for the rest of your life, warns the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.

Source: By Jodi Mailander Farrell, McClatchy Newspapers