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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ndidi Ufondu, DPM

Pregnancy and Bunions: Coping Strategies and Solutions




Pregnancy is a wonderful time in a woman's life, but it can also bring some challenges for her feet. One of the most common foot problems that pregnant women face is bunions, which are bony bumps that form at the base of the big toe. Bunions can cause pain, inflammation, and difficulty wearing shoes. They can also affect the alignment of the foot and lead to other issues such as hammertoes, corns, and calluses.


Bunions are caused by a combination of genetic factors and external pressure on the big toe joint. Pregnancy can increase the risk of developing or worsening bunions because of hormonal changes that loosen the ligaments and tendons in the feet, weight gain that adds more stress on the feet, and swelling that makes the feet wider and harder to fit into shoes.


If you are pregnant and have bunions, you may be wondering how to cope with this condition and what solutions are available to you. In this article, we will share some tips and advice from our podiatric experts at New Horizon Foot and Ankle Specialists LLC, a leading podiatric clinic in Arlington Texas. We have been helping patients with foot and ankle problems for over 16 years, and we are committed to providing personalized and compassionate care for every patient.



Here are some of the topics we will cover in this article:


  • How to prevent bunions from getting worse during pregnancy

  • How to relieve bunion pain and discomfort at home

  • How to choose the right shoes for your feet

  • How to use orthotics and other devices to support your feet

  • When to see a podiatrist for professional treatment

  • How to prepare for postpartum recovery




How to prevent bunions from getting worse during pregnancy


The best way to deal with bunions is to prevent them from getting worse in the first place. Here are some steps you can take to protect your feet during pregnancy:


  • Avoid standing or walking for long periods of time. If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet, take frequent breaks and elevate your feet whenever possible.

  • Avoid wearing tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes that squeeze your toes or put pressure on your bunion. Opt for shoes that are wide, comfortable, and supportive. You may need to go up a size or two as your feet expand during pregnancy.

  • Avoid crossing your legs or putting your feet under your chair when sitting. This can restrict blood flow and increase swelling in your feet.

  • Keep your feet moisturized and clean. Dry skin can crack and become infected, especially around the bunion area. Use a gentle soap and lotion to keep your feet soft and smooth.

  • Exercise your feet regularly. Stretching and strengthening your feet can improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and prevent stiffness in your joints. You can do simple exercises such as rolling a tennis ball under your foot, spreading your toes apart, or picking up small objects with your toes.




How to relieve bunion pain and discomfort at home


Even if you follow the prevention tips above, you may still experience some pain and discomfort from your bunions during pregnancy. Here are some ways you can ease your symptoms at home:

  1. Apply ice or cold packs to your bunion for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day. This can help reduce swelling and inflammation.

  2. Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen as directed by your doctor. Avoid aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs that may affect blood clotting or cause stomach irritation.

  3. Use bunion pads, cushions, or splints to protect your bunion from friction and pressure. You can find these products at most drugstores or online. Make sure they fit well and do not cause more irritation or discomfort.

  4. Massage your feet gently with oil or lotion. This can help relax your muscles, improve blood flow, and relieve tension in your feet.

  5. Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt or baking soda. This can help soften the skin, reduce inflammation, and ease pain.



How to choose the right shoes for your feet





One of the most important factors in managing bunions is wearing shoes that fit properly and comfortably. Here are some tips on how to choose the right shoes for your feet:

  • Shop for shoes in the afternoon or evening when your feet are at their largest. Measure both of your feet and buy shoes that fit the larger one.

  • Look for shoes that have a wide toe box, a low heel (less than 2 inches), a cushioned sole, and good arch support. Avoid shoes that have seams or decorations that rub against your bunion.

  • Try on shoes with socks or stockings that you normally wear. Make sure there is enough room for your toes to wiggle and move freely. You should be able to fit your thumb between the end of your shoe and your longest toe.

  • Break in your shoes gradually before wearing them for long periods of time. You can use a shoe stretcher or a hair dryer to stretch out tight areas of your shoes.

  • Replace your shoes when they become worn out or damaged. Worn-out shoes can lose their shape and support and cause more problems for your feet.


How to use orthotics and other devices to support your feet


Orthotics are custom-made inserts that fit inside your shoes and provide extra support and cushioning for your feet. They can help correct the alignment of your foot and reduce the pressure on your bunion. Orthotics can also help prevent or treat other foot problems such as flat feet, plantar fasciitis, or heel spurs.


If you have bunions, you may benefit from wearing orthotics during pregnancy. You can get orthotics from a podiatrist who will examine your feet and prescribe the best type and fit for you. You may need to wear orthotics for a few weeks or months until your feet adjust to them.


Other devices that can help support your feet include toe spacers, toe separators, toe straighteners, or night splints. These devices can help keep your toes in a more natural position and prevent them from overlapping or bending. You can wear these devices at night or during the day depending on your preference and comfort level.


When to see a podiatrist for professional treatment




Sometimes, home remedies and preventive measures are not enough to manage bunions during pregnancy. If you have severe pain, inflammation, infection, or difficulty walking, you should see a podiatrist for professional treatment.


A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle problems. At New Horizon Foot and Ankle Specialists LLC, we have a team of experienced and qualified podiatrists who can offer you the best care for your feet.


Some of the treatments we can provide for bunions include:

  • Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain

  • Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and discomfort

  • Antibiotics to treat infection

  • Custom-made orthotics to improve foot function and alignment

  • Physical therapy to improve mobility and strength

  • Ultrasound therapy to stimulate healing and reduce scar tissue

  • Laser therapy to reduce pain and inflammation

  • Shockwave therapy to stimulate blood flow and tissue regeneration



How to prepare for postpartum recovery


After you give birth, you may notice some changes in your feet. Your feet may shrink back to their original size or remain larger than before. Your bunions may improve or worsen depending on how they were affected by pregnancy.


Here are some tips on how to care for your feet after pregnancy:


  • Continue to wear comfortable and supportive shoes that fit well. Avoid wearing high heels or tight shoes that can aggravate your bunions.

  • Continue to exercise your feet regularly to maintain flexibility and strength. You can also do some gentle stretches and massages to ease any soreness or stiffness in your feet.

  • Continue to monitor your bunions for any signs of infection, inflammation, or worsening pain. If you have any concerns, consult with your podiatrist as soon as possible.



Conclusion


Bunions are common foot problems that can affect pregnant women due to hormonal changes, weight gain, and swelling. Bunions can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty wearing shoes. They can also lead to other foot issues such as hammertoes, corns, and calluses.


There are many ways to cope with bunions during pregnancy, such as wearing comfortable shoes, using bunion pads or splints, applying ice or heat, taking pain relievers, exercising your feet, and seeing a podiatrist for professional treatment.


At New Horizon Foot and Ankle Specialists LLC, we are here to help you with all your foot and ankle needs. We have been serving patients for over 16 years with personalized and compassionate care. We offer a range of services for bunions, including conservative treatments such as orthotics, injections, medications and physical therapy.


If you are pregnant and have bunions, don't hesitate to contact us today. We will evaluate your condition and recommend the best treatment plan for you. We will also guide you through the postpartum recovery process and help you restore the health and beauty of your feet.


We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you achieve healthy and happy feet!

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