Why Women’s Feet Hurt More During the Fall


Chicago, October 27, 2016 - For many women, autumn represents a time to start anew for many things, including a switch to enclosed-toe shoes. But, for women with bunions, the introduction of colder-weather shoes may mean increased foot pain.  

While shoes do not cause bunions, they may cause bunion pain, especially in the transitional season months. Many women spend their summer months donning foot-exposing shoes that cause minimal, if any, friction to their bunions. Switching to shoes with narrow foot boxes during the cooler months may cause rubbing against a bunion, in which case may become inflamed. 

To help combat the added foot pain, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons outlines common reasons why women experience bunion woes and when to seek treatment.

To ward off what many describe as intense pain, foot and ankle surgeons recommend shoe modifications to new patients. Avoiding high-heeled shoes and styles that crowd the toes together can help. Proper shoe selection and adjustment can go a long way, advises Karl Collins, DPM, FACFAS, an ACFAS Fellow Member who practices out of St. Louis. 

"If a patient has a shoe that fits well everywhere else, but there's just a little bit of irritation at just that one spot, we may recommend that they have the shoe modified (by a shoe repair shop)," said Collins.

South Carolina foot and ankle surgeon and ACFAS Fellow Member Michelle L. Butterworth, DPM, FACFAS, treats a lot of teachers in the fall who have back-to-school bunion pain.

Dr. Butterworth says many women don't understand what doctors mean about shoe width: It's the front of the shoe that needs to be wide. "Anything that's real pointy is going to put more pressure on that (bunion) bump," she explains.

In addition to recommending shoe changes, foot and ankle surgeons may also prescribe foam- or gel-filled padding, orthotics, anti-inflammatory medications and injections for bursitis, nerve irritation and joint irritation. While these techniques address pain, they do not stop the bunion from getting worse. Only surgery can correct the deformity.

Bunion surgery boasts a high success rate, but surgeons agree that patients need to understand what their procedure and recovery will involve.

"Probably the biggest thing is, they think surgery's not going to work and the bunion will come back," says Butterworth. "It's probably the biggest myth I dispel."

"If wearing four-inch heels and working on your feet all day wasn't good for you before the surgery, it's certainly not going to be good for you after the surgery," notes foot and ankle surgeon and ACFAS Fellow Member Michael Loshigian, DPM, FACFAS, who practices out of New York.

Because bunions are a progressive disorder, they do not go away and may become worse over time. ACFAS recommends that patients see a foot and ankle surgeon as early as possible for an exam and diagnosis. To fully evaluate the condition, the foot and ankle surgeon may take x-rays to determine the degree of the deformity and assess the progression of the bunion.

For more on bunion symptoms and surgery or to find a foot and ankle surgeon in your area, visit ACFAS' patient education website at FootHealthFacts.org.  


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