Give bunions the boot

Meghan may have had surgery to re­move her bony bumps but be­fore you go un­der the knife there are sim­pler and cheaper op­tions to con­sider, writes Deirdre Reynolds

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Feature -

SHE may have the world at her feet, but it seems even Meghan Markle can’t es­cape bunions.

Ru­mours are afoot that the Duchess of the Sus­sex may have gone un­der the knife in pur­suit of per­fect feet. Mum-to-be Meghan ditched her Mano­los to go bare­foot at a tra­di­tional Maori cer­e­mony in New Zealand ear­lier this month.

And a tiny scar on the 37year-old’s pedi­cured left foot didn’t go un­no­ticed by ex­perts.

“Meghan’s scar is 100% due to open bunion surgery,” claims Kumar Ku­nasingam, con­sul­tant trauma and or­thopaedic sur­geon for BMI Shirley Oaks Hos­pi­tal in Sur­rey.

“It’s nice that Meghan can hu­man­ise the con­di­tion and show even roy­alty can get them. Oth­er­wise peo­ple suf­fer in si­lence and it can be de­bil­i­tat­ing both phys­i­cally and men­tally.”

With a de­signer shoe col­lec­tion to make Car­rie Brad­shaw weep, al­ready the ‘Markle ef­fect’ has seen a pair of €287 Stella McCartney sneak­ers and €216 Sarah Flint san­dals worn by the royal in­flu­encer sell out. The Markle Sparkle could trig­ger a rise in so-called Cin­derella surgery among women too.

Con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, wear­ing sky­scrapers doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily cause the con­di­tions, but can ex­ac­er­bate them, while sur­gi­cal ad­vance­ments mean women no longer have to hang up their heels after­wards ei­ther.

“Our ap­proach to bunion surgery is to main­tain flex­i­bil­ity of the big toe joint as this al­lows pa­tients to wear a wider range of shoes,” ex­plains con­sul­tant po­di­atric sur­geon Claire O’Kane. “86% of pa­tients can re­turn to wear­ing high heels fol­low­ing surgery.

“In the past, the big toe joint was of­ten fused in or­der to cor­rect the bunion which may limit the height [of heel] that the pa­tient could wear.

“The big­gest ad­vance­ment has been the de­vel­op­ment of in­ter­nal fix­a­tion (screws), which means that pa­tients do not need to be put in plas­ter of paris af­ter surgery. Pa­tients need to rest for two weeks, but most can re­turn to driv­ing and wear­ing run­ner-type shoes af­ter this.”

Bo­tox to stop the feet from sweat­ing and swelling and plump­ing fillers to pre­vent pain in the balls of the feet are among the more ex­treme op­tions for danc­ing queens this party sea­son.

Sim­ply stuff­ing the toe of your shoe with cot­ton wool, re­mov­ing it later on in the night when your feet start to swell, is per­haps a less eye­wa­ter­ing — and cheaper — trick of the trade.

It could cer­tainly ex­plain why ex­pec­tant mum Meghan ap­peared to be wear­ing a pair of navy Manolo Blah­niks that were too big for her at Princess Eu­ge­nie’s wed­ding re­cently.

Af­ter de­vel­op­ing a bunion, Lon­don-based busi­ness­woman Lisa Kay went one step fur­ther, cre­at­ing Sole Bliss (sole­b­, a range of footwear es­pe­cially for ladies with bunions and wide feet.

“Women with bunions can wear heels if they wear the right type,” she ad­vises. “Get rid of the shoes you know are too nar­row and cut across painful foot joints, in­stead opt­ing for styles that offer a lot of room at the front of the shoe so that your bunions can ‘breathe’.

“All of our shoes are cut high up on the topline to avoid ag­gra­vat­ing painful joints, and they all have a de­cep­tively wide and deep toe box for max­i­mum com­fort, whilst still hold­ing the heel in place se­curely. The de­mand from Ire­land has been phe­nom­e­nal.

“We have ev­ery­thing from young women in their early 20s who have al­ready de­vel­oped bunions through to more ma­ture ladies who are look­ing for some­thing el­e­gant to wear to their grand­chil­dren’s wed­dings.”

With LBD sea­son well and truly un­der way, else­where at Achilles Foot Clinic in Cork, corns, cal­luses and in­grown toe­nails are some of the most com­mon com­plaints among heel-lov­ing ladies. Yet brogues, an­kle boots, and bal­let flats are equally on-trend this sea­son, with Ken­dall Jen­ner and Bella and Gigi Ha­did all step­ping out in flats lately.

In­spired by the on­go­ing ath­leisure phe­nom­e­non, sales of high heels fell 12%,

ac­cord­ing to US mar­ket re­searchers the NPD Group, while women’s sneaker sales went up by 37%.

“Footwear is a huge fac­tor [in foot health],” says po­di­a­trist Lor­can O’Don­aile ( “Women tend to pri­ori­tise, un­der­stand­ably, fash­ion over com­fort, and that doesn’t al­ways play out well in the long term.

“At the same time, we’re re­al­is­tic with pa­tients — we don’t ex­pect them to wear run­ners all the time, so what we do is we com­pro­mise. Short term, we get them to wear footwear that gives [the foot a chance to re­cover]; once we get them ed­u­cated on what to do longterm, there’s no rea­son why peo­ple can’t go back to wear­ing fash­ion­able shoes.

“The key thing is to make sure the siz­ing is ap­pro­pri­ate,” he ad­vises. “And re­place your footwear when it gets worn. When you’re cut­ting your toe­nails, fol­low the curve of the nail like you would with your fin­ger­nails, rather than cut­ting them straight across.”

At home, reg­u­larly scrub­bing and mois­tur­is­ing is the se­cret to do­ing your best

Strictly im­pres­sion on the dance­floor this Christ­mas, ac­cord­ing to Emma Mur­phy of Pol­ish Hand and Foot Spa in Dublin (pol­

“Our most pop­u­lar foot treat­ment is the OPI Pedi­cure (€50), which in­cludes hard skin re­moval, scrub, and a mas­sage,” says the beauty ther­a­pist. “If some­body has corns, bunions, or spe­cific ar­eas of hard skin, then we’d rec­om­mend the cal­lus peel pedi­cure (€65) or MediPedi (€90).

“Usu­ally when some­body comes in get­ting a pedi­cure, we as­sess why they have hard skin in the first place. It could be ge­netic, [that they] have ar­eas of bone that cre­ate fric­tion in their shoes, no mat­ter what shoes they wear, or they could be wear­ing the wrong footwear or on their feet all day.

“If you’re look­ing for an ef­fec­tive treat­ment, the im­por­tant thing is to have hard skin re­moved, good cu­ti­cle work, [with] the cu­ti­cles pushed back and clipped, and a per­fect paint. When you’re do­ing your own treat­ments at home, I would rec­om­mend us­ing a nice scrub and par­tic­u­larly a mois­turiser. I wouldn’t rec­om­mend hard skin re­moval us­ing a pumice or a file your­self at home be­cause a lot of times you can cre­ate a prob­lem if you’re fil­ing an area that doesn’t need to be filed — it stim­u­lates hard skin to grow.”

Above all O’Don­aile urged fash­ion­istas to put their best foot for­ward this win­ter. “One of the best things to do is to main­tain your gen­eral health,” he ex­plains.

“Put on good footwear, get out, keep mo­bile and flex­i­ble. Do yoga, do Tai Chi, do danc­ing, but if some­thing is trou­bling you, or you’re at all con­cerned, go and see your lo­cal po­di­a­trist.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t wear nice shoes — of course you can. Our goal, at the end of the day, is to help pa­tients have a qual­ity of life, and part of that is that they look nice and feel nice.”


of the best things to do is to main­tain your gen­eral health

Pic­ture: Kirsty Wig­glesworth

Harry and Meghan dur­ing their royal trip to Fraser Is­land, Queens­land last month.

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