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Bunions can be a real pain in the foot

Graphic August 2, 1997
Web posted at: 10:04 p.m. EDT (0204 GMT)

From Correspondent Linda Ciampa

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Tracie Paul is following in her mother's footsteps -- she's developing bunions.

A bunion is a deformity of the big toe that develops into a painful bump on the side of the foot. And while they're not actually hereditary, people do pass along a foot shape prone to developing them.

Tight, high-heeled, pointed shoes can pull toes together, stress ligaments and trigger a bunion.

"Certain people are predisposed to it," Dr. Erroll Bailey of Emory University said. "Wearing ill-fitted shoes just predisposes you even more."

Doctors advise bunion-sufferers to exchange high heeled, pointed shoes for more sensible low-heeled ones with a more rounded toe.

They also offer other tips:

  • Shop for shoes late in the day when feet are slightly swollen, so the shoes are wide enough.

  • Insert special cushions in shoes for more comfort and support.

  • Substitute low-impact workouts such as swimming or biking for high-impact sports such as running.

But these measures may not be enough to alleviate the trouble. Like Marie-Ann Bauer, you may need surgery.

She described her pain this way: It feels "like when someone takes and sticks a very, very sharp knife or poker in the side of your foot."

To alleviate the pain in her right foot, doctors broke the bone to her big toe and realigned her foot. While Bauer spent a few days on crutches, she was out of her cast and walking within three weeks.

"It's like having a whole new foot," she said.

The best advice for foot health: Buy the right shoes and do the right type of exercise. If the pain persists, talk to a doctor. More than likely, relief is just a few steps away.

 
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