Bunions and Hammer Toes
What are bunions and hammer toes?
A bunion is a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe that causes an enlargement of the bone or tissue, producing an abnormal lump on the side of the foot. The big toe is pushed inwards towards the other toes and the shape of the foot is therefore changed and swelling, pain or discomfort can result.
A hammer toe or contracted toe, is a deformity of a joint in the second, third, or fourth toe, causing the toe to be permanently bent at the middle joint. The toe can become bulbous, where it may look to resembe a hammer. Initially, hammer toes are flexible and can be corrected with simple measures but, if left untreated, they can become rigid and may require surgery.
Why do we get bunions or hammer toes?
The occurrence of bunions and hammer toes is more common in people who have very flexible joints and these problems are therefore, often inherited. Sufferers may have inherited a tendency to develop hammer toes because their feet are slightly unstable - perhaps they are flat-footed or have high arches. Arthritis or diabetes may contribute to the onslaught of hammer toes and underlying health conditions such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis which can also be responsible for the development of bunions.
Injury to the feet caused by wearing poorly fitting shoes can also contribute to cases of bunions and hammer toes. Shoes that are too narrow toward the front of the shoe push the smaller toes into a flexed, or bent position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the conditions. A higher heel also forces the foot down and squashes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten out, even when they are not being confined by shoes.
How can well fitted footwear help?
One of the best ways of reducing your chances of developing bunions or hammer toes is to wear shoes that fit you perfectly. This means being fitted for footwear which is not only the right size for you, but also the correct width fitting and the best style for your particular foot condition. Wearing shoes that are too tight and do not fit properly is likely to make an existing bunion or hammer toe worse.
It's best to avoid wearing shoes with pointy toes or heels that are too high. Your shoes should be wide enough for your toes not to be forced together and there should be enough room to allow your toes to move freely, so ladies please pay partiicular attention to to the shoes you buy. Shoes made from soft leather or a yielding material which stretches, are invariably a good choice. Look for shoes with a wide and deep toe-box for optimal comfort and steer clear of restricted fastenings, such as metal buckles or tight straps.
If you are unsure, do seek expert shoe fitting advice from a trained shoe fitter and consult a Podiatrist to examine your feet thoroughly for biomechanical issues.
We have plenty of advice on the site on how to
find the perfect wide shoes fitting, with the shoe fitting video below
as well as our shoe fitting guide that lets you know of the different widths we have available in our range at The Wider Fit Shoe Store at Bournemouth Footwear.