We’ve all heard those sky-high heels aren’t the best for your foot, but they can be harmful for women with an existing foot malformation such as a bunion.

From the time Amy Saracino was a young girl, she know something was wrong underfoot.

“When I was a kid I wore orthotics in my shoes. As I got older you could see the protrusion starting on my foot,” says Saracino. “That bony bump is a bunion. The protrusion is right here.”

An abnormality of the big toe joint, bunions form when the big toe pushes up against the other toes forcing the joint in the opposite direction.

“It’s also the deviation and the angle between the first and second toe bones called the metatarsal bones. And that deviation can get worse with time,” says Dr. Andrew Belis, a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon on Lee Memorial Health System's medical staff.

Oh the agony of the feet. Doctors see it all the time, especially in women. One of the first things they may do is look down to see what shoes you’re wearing.

“It’s a component of inheritability, but there’s also a component of what you do to your feet that may actually make it worse or slow the process down,” says Dr. Belis.

Amy was born with foot issues, but as she grew so did her shoes.

“At the time I was in college, working, so it was a lot of time on my feet, in heels, walking around, running around, and it started to just ache,” says Saracino.

Doctors have several options for treating the pain.

“Sometimes just a simple matter of wearing wider shoes or more supportive shoes. If there’s some joint pain associated with the problem, then sometimes we can offer them palliative care, possibly an injection or medication to calm it down,” says Dr. Belis.

Using orthotics, which are molded shoe inserts, may help alleviate the pain and slow the growth process.

“As far as fixing, there’s different options now days, and actually there’s a lot more newer technology that’s being offered and a lot more variety of different surgeries,” says Dr. Belis.

For now, Amy is watching her step and choosing supportive shoes.

“It’s just a matter of finding something comfortable that will keep that joint covered and contained,” says Saracino.

View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/

Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we've been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.

Visit leememorial.org

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