High Heels and Bunions: What You Must Know
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High Heels and Bunions: What You Must Know

Bunion is a painful deformity of the foot. Recent studies show that bunions are linked to wearing of high heels. Pointed heel cause incorrect joint and tendon motion and exerts pressure on foot causing bunions. In this article, you will learn more on bunion symptoms and treatment and how improper foot wear can lead to this problem.

Wearing of high heels, tight and pointed shoes can lead to bone deformities. Pointed heel cause incorrect joint and tendon motion and exerts pressure on foot causing bunions. Bunions can be genetic, but majority of sufferers have the problem due to bad footwear choices. About 88% of women wear small shoes and 55% of them suffer from bunions, according to American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.

A bunion is a deformity where big toe will angle mildly or severely towards second toe. Skin at the bottom of the foot might become painful and a bone bump can develop at the base of the big toe. As bunion gets bigger, it might be more difficult to walk. Pain can be severe or intermittent. The pain prevents walking comfortably in normal shoes. Pressure from the big toe may force other four toes to be out of alignment. The crowding of toes can cause the second toe or other toe to be claw shaped, known as hammertoe. It also causes corns and calluses to develop.

Heel height and point of the shoe aggravates an existing bunion. Wearing heels with downward slope exerts pressure on the big foot bones and bunion pain grows worse.

Bunions that develop on the outside of feet at the smallest toe base are known as bunionette or tailor’s bunion. Wearing shoes that are too tight causes it. Like the big toe bunion, bursitis and calluses can develop.


  • Big toe will angle mildly or severely towards second toe.
  • Persistent pain at big toe.
  • Bony enlargement at the big toe.
  • Enlarged joint with redness, pain and tenderness.
  • Bursitis - Fluid filled sac near the bursa develops swelling, redness and pain.

Who’s at risk?

Bunions are common in women and elderly, though anyone can suffer from this problem. Ballet dancers also suffer from this problem. Those with flat feet are particularly at risk.

Diagnosis of bunion:

To assess the severity of the problem, X-rays are often required. It helps in assessment of the degree of alignment from its original position and rule out the possibility of arthritis or gout.


Surgical treatment is often recommended. Surgery helps to straighten the bones.

Non -surgical treatment includes resting the foot and using wide and comfortable shoes. Avoiding excessive walking and using comfortable walking shoes often helps. Insoles in shoes also add comfort.

Bunion splints:  An orthotic splint that keeps toes apart.

Stretching exercise:  simple stretching exercises, taping and padding of feet in the anatomical position often relives pain and stress on the bunion.

Localized pain injection:  For inflammation of joint.

Pain killers: Oral pain killers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are prescribed.

Sassy pair of stiletto sandals might boost your confidence, but bunions are extremely painful. If you can’t avoid that pair of high heels, avoid wearing them for more than three hours a day. Get proper footwear, especially as you get older and avoid aggravating bunions.

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Comments (7)

Very informative for women who wear heels to get a height.

Excellent share !

Nice topic! Thanks for making all aware of the dangers and risk of wearing high heels.

Wait until later years with more systemic problems that surface; worse than what you describe.Thank you for the alerts here.Well done.

Useful info on bunion and the dangers of wearing high heels. thank you Nisha. Thanks for your affection and support. Voted.

Good work on this!

Great and beneficial information, now my 2 teen age girls maynot heed it. Five inch heels and pointed toe shoes is the norm for them..voted