Bunions are not exactly genetic, but the way your foot is built and the way you walk definitely impacts their development. Stride and foot shape are genetic, so if your parents had bunions, there's a good chance you'll end up with them, too. Actually, though, it can be really helpful to know you're at an increased risk for bunions before they develop. If you notice them and take action early, you may prevent them from becoming so bad that you require bunion treatment or surgery. So, what should you do if you notice you're starting to develop bunions?
Stop wearing heels and narrow shoes
High heels are not good for anyone's feet, but as someone who has bunions, you should be particularly careful to avoid wearing heels. You also want to avoid wearing shoes that are too narrow. Both put pressure on your toes and can cause bunions to progress more rapidly. Instead, wear flat shoes that are wide. You may need to start buying shoes in a wider width, like C or D, even if you previously wore shoes in a narrower width.
See a podiatrist for orthotics
People often wait to see a podiatrist and get custom orthotics until their bunions are downright painful and unpleasant. But taking action earlier can help keep the bunions from getting worse. A podiatrist will take X-rays of your foot, measure it carefully, and design an orthotic insert for your shoe that helps take pressure off your big toe and the front of the foot. You'll need to wear the orthotics daily, especially if you work on your feet.
Invest in a night splint
You can buy what are known as night splints at most pharmacies. They are like little slings that fit around your foot, pulling your big toe outwards just a bit. Wearing these to bed each night can help keep your bunions from worsening. If the over-the-counter splints do not fit you or are uncomfortable, you can have a podiatrist make you a custom set.
Take NSAIDs when you have pain or swelling
If you do ever experience pain or swelling in your bunion, do not just ignore it. Take a dose of an NSAID, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. This does more than curb the pain. It also helps alleviate inflammation, and alleviating inflammation can help keep the bunion from progressing.
Not every patient with bunions requires surgery. If you take the treatment steps above at the first sign of bunions, you may be able to avoid more serious issues later on.