Hallux valgus, bunion in woman foot on grass background

In July 2017 our own Dr. Carol Frey was interviewed for a story for “Parents” magazine on mothers often silently suffer from shoes that are too tight, don’t fit, make you wince. “The Secret Bunion Society” made a real splash. And since Dr. Frey is the director of foot and ankle surgery at West Coast Center for Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, we thought it might be a great idea to recapture the essence of that article in a blog. It tells the story of author Leslie Goldman and how she dealt with her bunion problem. Here is her story…

I didn’t schedule an appointment with a podiatrist until the pain in my right big toe had morphed into an excruciating jolt that shot through my foot with every step I took. Diagnosis: a bunion. Surgery was a the only lasting solution.

During my four weeks of recovery, I wore a black surgical boot. By talking to other women, working moms, stay at home moms, etc, I quickly realized that I was not alone with my bunion problem. ,,70 percent of women will develop a bunion, and it starts in one’s early 20s”, says orthopedic surgeon Carol Frey, M.D. I learned that hormonal changes of pregnancy can predispose a woman to develop bunions or they can aggravate her existing ones.

A bunion can be cause by years of wearing pointy-toed shoes, having flat feet, or just bad genetic luck. Some women never feel pain, most however will experience varying degrees of aching, friction from their shoes, swelling and eventually arthritis. ,,During pregnancy, the hormone relaxin relaxes ligaments throughout the body so that the pelvis can expand to accommodate the baby’s head”, says Dr. Frey. She continues: ,,But it also affects the ligaments that hold the bones of the feet together. As these ligaments relax, our arches fall and our feet spread out.”

Existing bunions won’t necessarily get larger during pregnancy, but because your feet can swell due to increased blood volume, shoes that used to fit often feel torturous by month seven.

Because moms often put themselves last on the list for health care, they tend to avoid dealing with a bunion until the pain is awful. The longer you wait to treat it, the worse it can get. To help prevent bunions during pregnancy, you can wear over the counter shoe inserts that keep your arches from falling. A podiatrist can measure you and then order a pair of orthotics for your sneakers and another for dress shoes. Custom ones are often covered by insurance, and then can range from $ 500 to $ 600 a pair.

If you do get the surgery, it is important to have plenty of help from family and friends, as you’ll be spending time with your foot elevated and may not be able to drive. It is great to have shoe options after the operation and to stand and dance like a normal person. And the best is you no longer scare other women when you are getting a pedicure.

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