I have bunions. I have had them for as long as I can remember. I guess I probably didn’t have them when I was born, but I definitely remember having them by the time I was about nine years old. A lot of websites say that most women who have bunions got them from wearing narrow, pointy, high heeled shoes. Since I wasn’t wearing such shoes at age seven or eight, I am certain that mine are a result of heredity. I read somewhere that bunions themselves aren’t hereditary, but the foot type that is prone to bunions (as in, feet that overpronate) is hereditary. Same difference, if you ask me. Both my parents have bunions, so while my sisters seem to have escaped the fate, I did not.
When I was around nine or ten, the only time I really had bunion pain was when it was rainy or really humid outside. In fact, for a while, I could pretty much predit rainy weather because my feet would hurt. The deformity in my feet no longer serves as a prognosticator of precipitation.
For a long time, I could still manage to wear most kinds of shoes. I had to be careful to avoid shoes that were too pointy or had a seam that went directly over the bunion, but my shoe choices weren’t terribly limited. I didn’t have to wear special shoes or anything different. But when I was about 23 or 24, I determined it was time to go to the doctor about it. While the pain wasn’t constant, it had increased enough to make me think I might need to take action. The doctor categorized my bunions as “severe” and told me that eventually I was going to need surgery, but that I should put it off as long as possible. (I found out recently that bunion surgery often doesn’t fix the problem permanently because your foot type stays the same. Therefore, you may develop the bunions all over again.) The physician prescribed orthotics for me. These orthotics made a big difference in how my feet felt. I couldn’t wear them in all my shoes, but just wearing them when I ran helped a lot. And I had some boots and maybe one other pair of shoes that would accomodate the orthotics.
Wearing orthotics has really helped for the last ten years, but now I’m finding that my feet hurt more often than not. All my shoes, especially on the left foot, tend to feel tight or rub wrong. Even my running shoes, the ones that I so painstakingly picked out and chose because they were the only ones that didn’t hurt, are starting to feel a little tight in the forefoot.
Earlier this week, I went to the YMCA after work. When I arrived and started changing clothes, however, I discovered that I hadn’t brought socks. That meant that I’d have to wear the socks I had worn to work, which were thinner socks than I normally wear when I run. I’ve always worn socks of a regular thickness when I run, thinking that if the socks were too thin, I’d get blisters. But my only other choices were to go home and get different socks or run sockless. Neither of those options sounded great to me, so I wore the work socks.
I was surprised to find that the thin socks actually made the shoes more comfortable! There was less tightness around the bunion, so the shoes didn’t pinch as much. Perhaps that should have been obvious to me, but I didn’t really figure that a couple of millimeters of thickness would make a difference. (Don’t ask my why I thought it would make a difference with blisters, but not with bunions. No idea.) As a result, the past few days, I’ve been searching through my sock drawer for thin socks I can wear while running. I have a few pairs, and they tend to be funny colors or have silly patterns on them, but hey, if they help reduce the pain, I don’t care so much about looking funny.
Stay tuned for more adventures as I try to find cute shoes, and get new orthotics, and possibly consider surgery.