Every woman loves a great pair of heels. They elongate your legs, compliment your outfit and make you feel sexy. However, aside from sore feet at the end of the day, high heels can cause many serious foot issues, especially for women who wear them daily. While problems such as calluses and corns can usually be combated with over-the-counter treatments, bunions are a painful deformity that can only be corrected through surgery.
A bunion is most typically described as a deformity that develops when the muscles and ligaments that hold the first metatarsal bone (bone near your big toe) become weak and cause the bone to shift. When this happens, the big toe itself shifts as well, pointing inward and causing an angular deformity. While some women are lucky enough to throw on their heels every day and require nothing more than a foot rub at night’s end, it is estimated that about one-third of all women in the United States suffer from painful bunions resulting in 200,000 bunion correction surgeries are performed each year.
Traditionally, surgery for bunion correction has been extremely painful with a long recovery period. The only option offered was an osteotomy bunionectomy, where the surgeon was required to break the bone or cut into it to reposition the first metatarsal. The recovery time for this procedure was typically ten to twelve weeks, and forced the patient to use crutches until recovery. However, most recently a procedure known as the Mini-Tight Rope procedure is giving women the option of minimal pain and faster recovery. During this procedure, one millimeter holes are drilled through the first and second metatarsal bones. Next, two sets of sutures made of hair-thin wire material, are threaded through the holes and anchored on either side of the metatarsals. Once in place, the sutures are tightened to correct the alignment of the big toe. Not only does this procedure mean no major incisions or breaking of bones, it also means the ability to return to comfortable footwear in about six to eight weeks.
Dr. George Holmes, a foot and ankle surgeon at Midwest Orthopedics says while this procedure is a major medical breakthrough, that not every woman is a good candidate for the procedure. “The ideal candidate is a patient with a painful bunion deformity that affects their selection of shoe wear as well as their participation in sports and activities,” he says. “While age in and of itself is not a factor, the candidate should have a mild to moderate deformity as opposed to a severe deformity.”
While Dr. Holmes does not encourage his patients to return to the world of stilettos (as this is typically what leads patients to his office in the first place), he does realize telling a woman she can never wear heels again can often be an act in futility. Once patients have fully recovered from the procedure, Dr. Holmes recommends making the following adjustments to your footwear choices to help ensure the bunion deformity does not return:
- Choose heels with a wide toe box over a pointed one
- Reduce the duration of time spent in heels each day (wear gym shoes walking to and from work or when out running errands)
- Choose a platform heel with a thick sole to provide cushioning
- Choose heels with a broader heel over spiky stilettos
Whether you choose to modify your sexy footwear or give it up altogether in favor of this season’s fabulous flats, keep in mind that you only have one pair of feet. While the styles we choose may be sexy to look at, not all shoes were made for walking. Choose wisely!
For more information on Dr. Holmes and his Mini Tight Rope procedure, visit Dr. Holmes