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aghh! Can I be glamorous despite my ugly bunions?

(37 Posts)
Pheel Wed 25-May-11 11:53:07

I think I may be alone, at having nasty unsightly bunions in my early 40s. (My mum has them so I suppose it was inevitable). I love the summer, but really dread having to try and get my feet into sandals and am so jealous of the dainty ones everyone else can wear.

I have recently bought some special bunion sandals from a website and they are really comfortable and look pretty good.

But if anyone has any other suggestions I'd really appreciate it. I'd also love to know if I am not alone.

Havingkittens Wed 25-May-11 12:26:28

You're not alone. The only reason I don't have unsightly bunions in my early 40s is that I had mine removed a couple of years ago.

There have been positives and negatives to this. I still have problems with my feet, just different ones! Pain in the ball of my foot (I only had one removed, the other one is not too bad), between my big toe and the next one where they pulled the bones together. This means I am still limited to what shoes I can wear but nowhere near as limited as before. I need something with a bit of resistance under my toes, like a cork or padded sole so now I can wear small wedges which are a lot prettier than my earlier limitations. I wear orthotics inside my closed shoes to support my feet and take the pressure off where the pain is. I have been advised against wearing ballet pump type shoes as it's not good for your feet to have to 'clench' to stay in them, but can wear mary jane type pumps (like ballet pumps but with a strap) as long as there is some padding in the soles. The great thing now is that, now that my scar has healed, I dont' have to worry about where the shoe is cut so as not to dig in to my bunion. I'm sure you know all about that! I can also wear strappy sandals without worrying about my bunions as well.

When I did have the bunion I found suede shoes the best as the suede stretches more easily.

It's worth asking your GP to refer you to a podiatrist even if you don't want to have surgery as you can get orthotics on the NHS that you can put inside shoes to make things more comfortable.

takeonboard Wed 25-May-11 12:34:50

you are not alone, I have them and they dominate my whole wardrobe! I can only really wear trainers and so live in jeans and trousers as dresses and skirts look odd with trainers.
Mine don't hurt but they are so ugly I cannot bear to look at my feet and feel very self-conscious when people look at my feet.
I should have them removed - I did have a surgery appointment a couple of years ago but bottled it at the last minute blush
I am going to look at the sandals you recommend. I suppose the only answer is surgery but I have heard so many stories like yours kittens it doesn't seem like the answer.
Sorry I haven't been able to help but just wanted to let you know you are not the only one!!

Havingkittens Wed 25-May-11 12:40:39

Well, it's a hard decision. For some it can be an absolute success and for some it can make things worse I've heard. I am somewhere in between I suppose. I could've written your post about living in trainers and only wearing jeans. I do have a lot more scope now for what I can wear, especially during the summer.

I do still wear jeans a lot but that's not just down to footwear issues now. I find I can wear stuff like biker boots with my jeans now which were too firm and narrow for me previously.

Mind you, I did have a reasonable amount of pain with my bunion so I think along with the vanity aspect of it it was probably worth me doing.

Pheel Wed 25-May-11 12:55:26

Thank you so much for your comments. I am a little nervous about going down the operating route, and am concerned I may end up with more problems than I started with sad - I tend to live in trainers too, but my feet get hot in this weather so the sandals are now a good option too.

CloversMama Wed 25-May-11 13:14:29

I had horrible bunions (thanks Nan) and I know too well the limitations this places on summer footwear. I used to be so jealous of my friends wearing pretty strappy sandals and flip flops when I would always be hidden away in trainers and ballet pumps. My bunions even used to ruin things like boots as eventually the bulge would distort the leather sad

I decided to have surgery on both feet last Autumn and I don't regret it for a moment. My bunions were definitely painful but I would be lying if I didn't say that for me, my main concern was how they looked. The operation definitely was no walk in the park - I naively thought that as a fit and healthy 25 year old, I would be back to normal in no time and that the recovery periods my doctor warned me about were more aimed at older, less mobile women. Wrong. I spent the first week off my face on painkillers, lying on the sofa all day, with my VERY heavily bandaged swollen feet in the air, and then a further 8 weeks hobbling around on crutches, wearing the special support sandals.

Considering I had surgery in October, I still wouldn't say I am 100% back to normal, more like 90%. My feet are now beautifully straight and I can walk, run etc as more or less as normal. I have worn high heels since and my scars are definitely fading. However, my toes are often still very stiff and my feet swell so easily. I don't regret having the operation as I now have a wardrobe full of flip flops, sandals etc, but I would definitely advise people to be realistic about the recovery.

Havingkittens Wed 25-May-11 13:18:43

Some of the brands that are good for problem feet are sadly very expensive but worth looking at as you can occasionally find prettier styles. Some of the ones I've checked out are

Joseph Siebel, Arche, Gabor, Mephisto, Van Daal.

Some of the Camper and Fly London ones are not too bad either if they are cut in the right place.

Some good shops to look in;

If you're in London, Gill Wing Shoes on Upper St, N1. have some good styles, but £££!

And, of course, Clark's.

I have to admit, I wouldn't be seen dead in a lot of the shoes from any of these suppliers but even if there's a 5% success rate of finding just one attractive pair of shoes that you can wear with a skirt or other summer wear it's worth a look!

Woolfiemum Wed 25-May-11 13:33:45

It's good to be talking about this, normally I feel my foot problems are too depressing to bore people with! But like you pheel, I've also found some good sandals for bunions from Meanfeet. The brand is Fidelio and they have a really clever design with a stretchy bit on the side where the bunion sticks out. It's hard to explain, but the stretchy bit is on the inside so it cant be seen, but it absorbs the pressure your bunion would be putting on the side of the shoe, and so it's really much less painful. My sandals are cork wedges, so vaguely trendy (!), and I live in them. Good luck!

Havingkittens Wed 25-May-11 13:43:57

I was lucky in that I didn't have much pain to speak of after the op, apart from the slightly vile feeling of the scar tissue forming whilst the cut knits back together. I do still get a rather swollen foot after 2 and a half years and the recovery, I think is still happening. I was a bit freaked out after a year that I was still having so much discomfort but I have noticed that it has improved greatly since then. So, yes, you do need to be realistic about the recovery process. I think I had it done just before my 39th birthday so maybe it is a bit slower when you get older. Or maybe it depends from person to person. I also have very soft feeble feet as I've worn trainers or soft shoes since my mid 20s when I dropped a rather large motorbike on my foot and fractured my metatarsal which I don't think really helped matters!

IShallWearMidnight Wed 25-May-11 13:50:44

I had one foot done in September and the other at the end of January, and it's only now that I'm starting to feel that my feet are back to normal (well not normal, as normal for me was bunions but ykwim). I've been very pleased with both surgeries, but the 8 weeks not driving each time was horrendous - thankfully DH was working from home so could take over all the school runs/shopping/ferrying DC around. I couldn't have managed it if the DC were any younger (DD3 is 9) as you need a LOT of help to get stuff done round the house.

But I'm off shoe shopping in the next couple of weeks - will need to ge tmy feet properly measuered to see what size I actually am, rather than what size is wide enough to squeeze the bunions into.

Earlybird Wed 25-May-11 18:40:09

Sadly, I am a member of this 'club' too.

At the moment, I am wearing these shoes and enjoying them:

They are not nearly so 'shiny' as they appear in the photo (they come in a range of colours). Believe it or not, I get compliments on them regularly. They work well with skirts or with trousers.

Most importantly, I can stand/walk in them for hours at a time without being in agony.

takeonboard Wed 25-May-11 18:42:28

I hadn't realised there were so many of us and relatively young! I am re-thinking having it done. Sorry to hijack the thread - pheel, - but can anyone tell me how painful, how long the recovery and how much/little you can do during the recovery time. I can work from home with a laptop is that possible? is general or local anaeshetic? I am a total wimp, seriously how painful is it (my bunions are not painful and this would be for reasons of vanity) Are you considering the surgery pheel?
I have looked at the shoes but............

Havingkittens Wed 25-May-11 20:47:51

I think the pain varies from person to person. I reckon I've got quite a high pain threshold though so I found it all really manageable. I was off my feet completely for a couple of weeks and then was able to get around with one crutch, but it was very frustrating. But not impossible. I went to the theatre and all sorts. Christmas shopping was really awkward with one arm in a crutch! Also, everytime I went to get my phone out of my pocket I nearly smacked passers by with my crutch. It was quite slapstick!

After a couple of weeks I was able to cook by chopping all my stuff sitting at the dining table and working off a tray and then perching in the kitchen with my knee propped on a chair, thus taking the weight off my foot. I only had one done. It's definitely more manageable having one done at a time but obviously increases your down time or time off sick if you are employed. I am self employed so it was a bit tricky as my work involves having to drive to my jobs with a heavy kit and be on my feet all day but I chose one of the quietest times of the year to have the op so it wouldn't mean loosing too much work. I did spend a considerable time sitting on my bed or the sofa on my laptop. So, yes, that is entirely possible!

Helltotheno Wed 25-May-11 22:19:03

OP sorry to hijack your thread a bit but just had another question for the people who had operations.

Did you go for the keyhole/minimally invasive type of surgery like this ?

Also, in terms of recovery, how soon could one get back to stuff like power walking, swimming, jogging, golf etc?

Havingkittens Wed 25-May-11 22:31:10

No, I had the 5cm cut open version.

Erm, I don't do anything akin to power walking or jogging I'm afraid so I can't help with that question. I think I could go swimming within about 8 weeks, when the wound had healed sufficiently. I suspect that would be different with the keyhole surgery though as there's less open wound there. Probably similar amount of trauma and bruising to bones, tendons, muscle etc so it would be a good few months at least before doing anything too strenuous if you want to give yourself the best chance of recovery.

soyabean Wed 25-May-11 22:31:11

Hmm I have one bunion too - have had since about 40, now 48, and its worse than ever, really noticeable and sometimes sore (rubbing on most shoes). Have started thinking about surgery too but will find it v hard not to run/walk. How long did you have to wait for op once GP had referred you? And as Helltotheno asks, how soon before you cd run and walk again?
Sorry so many of us suffer, horrible isn't it.

Helltotheno Wed 25-May-11 22:50:17

I'm thinking about the keyhole cos it seems as though the recovery might be faster. Haven't seen anyone about it yet though.

Bunions are the worst thing ever... they really cut down on the stuff you can wear though I know some people don't care about them being in full view. I feel mine are so fugly I cover them up all the time, even though the rest of my feet are fine. Speaking of bunions, didn't/doesn't Vic Beckham have them? Wonder if she did anything about them?

CloversMama Thu 26-May-11 08:47:49

I had to wait about 6 weeks between my GP referring me and seeing the surgeon, and then it was another 3 months before I actually went in for surgery.

I had a general anaesthetic although I managed to convince the doctor to discharge me the same day so no over night stay was involved. My feet were very heavily bound for nearly 8 weeks and I had to wear special non-weight bearing sandals that looked like geisha shoes. I was able to move on crutches but very slowly and it was really quite tiring. If I went to the supermarket or something, my DH ended up pushing me in a wheelchair.

On the exercise front, it was 8-9 weeks before I was able to wear anything slightly resembling a normal shoe (in my case trainers), and for the first few weeks that I walked without crutches, I found it really frustrating as my toes were stiff, my legs ached and my feet swelled really very easily. It was probably nearly 10-12 weeks before I felt comfortable running again and even now I get the odd twinge.

As I said in my earlier post, I definitely don't regret having it done but do be prepared to be 'out of action' for quite some time. I normally commute to work by train and tube and there is no way in hell that I would have been able to do this straight after my operation so I worked from home for about 2 months. I didn't drive for 8-9 weeks (it would have been near impossible in the non-weight bearing shoes) and as my feet were bandaged, I was unable to shower or sit properly in a bath for 8-9 weeks. Also, going up and down stairs is really quite hard and I found myself crawling around the house a hell of a lot.

BTW, this is what I mean by non-weight bearing shoes. I had to wear these every single time I wanted to walk anywhere. They were really heavy and uncomfortable and it was really annoying putting them on and off any time I wanted to move. I tended to gather up anything that I thought I would need for the day first thing each morning and then not move from the sofa, apart from to crawl to the toilet.

pinkhebe Thu 26-May-11 08:53:30

I too have bunions - although I don't think they affest me enough to have surgery yet (i'm in my 30s)

Please keep up the links for sandals, I found a pair in bhs (blush) that were quite pretty and covered my bunions. They were so comfy I bought 2 pairs. Should have bought 5 I've worn both pairs out!

Artichokes Thu 26-May-11 09:11:23

Urgh, I have this problem too. Have had bunions all my life. They are not particularly painful but they look awful and they quickly ruin the few nice shoes I do have by pushing through the sides.

I have two pairs of summer shoes:

ballet bumps which I found in Hobbs and they are wider than most

birkenstocks, OK they aren't trendy but they are comfy and the strap hides the bunion

IShallWearMidnight Thu 26-May-11 09:21:24

I found my ops not nearly as painful as i'd been led to believe (managed with just paracetamol and ibuprofen). Recovery time - foot in plaster for 2-3 weeks, so on crutches, plus the lovely shoe linked to earlier, then another4 weeks or so with just the sho/crutches as needed. I'm planning starting back running/jogging in a couple of weeks (4 months post op) although I still get a bit of achiness in the toe joint. No driving for 8 weeks or so.

However, there are about 130 different operations you can have, depending on what they actually need to do - both of mine were general anaesthetic day surgery, but quite major surgery as they not only removed the bunion, but had to adjust the muscle between my big toe and the second toe to keep it straight afterwards. Less wrong woudl mean less invasive surgery.

I was offered a date for the first op 16 weeks after referral from my GP (had to delay it due to a work contract), but again that depends on your NHS trust. I think mine is cutting down on what they see as less urgent surgery (which includes bunions) so I was quite lucky to get in when I did I think.

Helltotheno Thu 26-May-11 09:40:00

CloversMama that sounds really awful.. don't think I'd be up for that much recovery time. That's why I thought about getting the minimally invasive one where they just do keyhole surgery.
IShallWearMidnight is that the type of surgery you had?

Helltotheno Thu 26-May-11 09:41:41

Meant to say, Artichoke I have lots of those types of Birkies cos they're a wide fit and not only do they totally hide the bunion, they also don't get stretched out cos of bunion.

They're not that naff are they?!?!? I see a lot of teenagers in these.....

IShallWearMidnight Thu 26-May-11 11:51:35

Hell, I think it's a case of they tell you what type of surgery you can have, rather than you asking (certainly via the NHS, obv you get more say if private), but not all the different ops can be done via keyhole - mine certainly couldn't. I was in surgery for an extra hour with foot 2 as the drill broke and they had to go and track down a new one (quick trip to B&Q wink).

Best bet to is to get a referral and talk to the consultants, then you know what you'd be letting yourself in for. They were quite upfront with how long the recovery would be.

Havingkittens Thu 26-May-11 12:07:33

No, I was told what I was having done, not asked what I wanted. I suspect the keyhole surgery is only available privately, but may be wrong.

Artichokes I hate to be the bearer of bad news but my podiatrist tells me that ballet pumps are one of the worst things to wear as they make you clench your feet to keep them on and they have no arch support so can make matters worse in the long run. BUT, I know how hard it is to find girly shoes to wear with dresses with these limitations, unlike my podiatrist who is a rather unstylish man who has no sympathy for these matters!

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