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How do you deal with a bunion?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I was surprised I didn't find more on this topic via search...

For those with bunions - how do you deal with it while skiing? Pain reliever? Pad? Punched out boot? Surgery?? Suck it up and ignore pain?

I have a bunion at the base of my left big toe that developed over many years (not specifically due to skiing - I had been away from skiing over 10 years). I might have a slight limp and my left foot feels turned inward to compensate for lack of big toe support when walking/skiing. I'm wondering what other people do to deal with the bunion issue, and see if there is anything I can do.

My Boots - fairly good fit without aggrevating the bunion. I feel the pressure on it, but haven't needed to punch out the shell. Have been able to ski a whole day. Bunions pain/pressure goes away before bedtime. Even if the boot shell is punched out, I doubt that'll help my skiing (see below)...

I have subconsiously developed a (bad) habit to not apply enough pressure on the left big toe. It makes my turns rather asymetric, left vs. right. It isn't the only problem, I'm sure, but I feel that it is hindering me from getting to the next level. (I'm level 7/8(?), ski blue/black, wanting to get better at bumps) On steep trails, I get tentative on turns. On blues and easy blacks, I can deal with it better, but I have to pay attention so my body doesn't subconsiously protect the toe.

I hate the thought of getting a surgery done. I'm a recreational skier, perhaps might try recreational racing, but my job doesn't depend on my skiing ability. However, I do want to get better. This is a problem that was staring at me for all these years, and only recently have I started thinking about it in terms of how it affect the sports I participate in.

What have you done with your bunion? Does it affect your skiing? How? What are some of the options available when the bunion starts to affect skiing, again other than surgery? Maybe the fact that the bunion doesn't bother me after a whole day of skiing means I'm overprotecting it and I can push more?

Your thoughts/help please.
post #2 of 15
Bunions come in all sizes and shapes and people get them for different reasons. Frequently women are embarassed by them, because of the implication that they were doing the Imelda Marcos thing at the shoe store, fell for the "beauty knows no pain" BS, and voila, a potentially crippling foot deformity.
FWIW, I would not approach your bunion as a problem with your skiing, but as a problem with your foot. If your foot is deteriorating progressively, you should get some good medical attention, which, unfortunately, is not that easy to come by, since what you need is somebody who will monitor it and evaluate, rather than immediate heroic intervention. But if you are already limping on dry land, it's time to go see the doc for sure.
Disclaimer--my wife had a bunion Bunions are hereditary in her family (she was the third generation with them). Her grandma never had surgery and ended up with gnarly feet. Her Mother had the surgery 25 years ago and is fine. My wife had the surgery last year (after several years of monitoring the bunion), and is doing very well. She is more of a hiker than a skier, but she has skied since the surgery, and commented that her foot didn't give her any trouble.
post #3 of 15
See a podiatrist then go with the expert's ideas.

I'll give you one engineering solution: an axe.

All kidding aside, this is a medical problem and should be treated as one. Its not just your skiing that will suffer without proper care, its your whole life.
post #4 of 15


My feet.
Hereditary.
No Surgery (yet)

Cool Site with clickable Xrays

http://www.rad.washington.edu/anatom...luxValgus.html
post #5 of 15
Frau, those feet need surgical intervention. The displacement of the big toes is significantly advanced.

Nice paintjob, though.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the suggestion to seek a medical help. Believe, I'm considering it.

However, I'm still interested and curious about how it affects (or not) your skiing, or other sports for that matter, and how one deals with it - while waiting to get it treated or not.

FRAU - how do you deal with it, walking, running, skiing, other sports? Do you find yourself compensating somehow? Mine isn't as severe as yours, but I 'feel' it due to asymmetry.
post #7 of 15
Frau,

Are you sure you wanted to post that photo with the yardstick showing?

I come from a family with interesting foot sizes too. My Mom had a AAAA narrow foot. She had a devil of a time finding shoes that actually fit. Dad got use to stopping at every shoe store when we were on trips. She didn't buy a lot of shoes, but she was always looking for ones that fit properly. I've got an A toe AA heel and fitting ski boots is miserable. You must have an interesting time finding fashionable shoes that fit, let alone work shoes you can stand on for a long time that are comfortable.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brick
I appreciate the suggestion to seek a medical help. Believe, I'm considering it.

However, I'm still interested and curious about how it affects (or not) your skiing, or other sports for that matter, and how one deals with it - while waiting to get it treated or not.

FRAU - how do you deal with it, walking, running, skiing, other sports? Do you find yourself compensating somehow? Mine isn't as severe as yours, but I 'feel' it due to asymmetry.
Brick,
I've had this since puberty, so I've gotten used to just having to look harder for footwear, and following the rule of "If it hurts, don't wear it."
I truly think that this is what has kept me out of surgery thus far.

It does affect my gait, and my second toes have callouses on the ends from being the default weight-bearing toes, but this hasn't kept me from being active. I buy Men's EEEE sneakers ( New Balance ), and try to avoid the ones that have a pointed toe box. I go for the wider-toed "cross-country" styles instead.

I found Cycling shoes in a "mega" (wide) by Sidi. I power-walk, but don't "run". I never liked running much anyway, and when I did-in my knee, that gave me an excuse - besides, it pounds the toes too much.

My ski boots have major punch-outs in them and so far have been fairly comfortable. During my Utah trip last month though, the liners started causing me pain on the left foot over that spot. I tried different socks and the sticky bunion pads to shift the pressure, but it didn't help much, so I need to get something done. It wasn't just dull pressure pain - it was sharp and intense -- and it still twinges me now and then a month later. This is the first time I have had persistent pain, so I'm going to have to take it seriously. I really doubt that I will ever be able to have the kind of "fit" that people here claim is necessary for "performance" - but I also have my doubts that that particular "fit" is necessarily healthy. For you - I don't think the fact that you don't hurt when you ski means that you aren't "pushing" hard enough - no pain is a good thing.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square
Frau,

Are you sure you wanted to post that photo with the yardstick showing?

I come from a family with interesting foot sizes too. My Mom had a AAAA narrow foot. She had a devil of a time finding shoes that actually fit. Dad got use to stopping at every shoe store when we were on trips. She didn't buy a lot of shoes, but she was always looking for ones that fit properly. I've got an A toe AA heel and fitting ski boots is miserable. You must have an interesting time finding fashionable shoes that fit, let alone work shoes you can stand on for a long time that are comfortable.
Ha! Yeah, I actually took and posted that photo last spring when I was looking for cycling shoes that were wide enough. I'd never be able to date a foot-fetishist, eh?

Fashionable shoes? What are those? I gave up on Heels over 10 years ago - except for the rare pantyhose-type occasion. Graduation weekend this past May with all the dinners, etc was painful. Thank God I'm not in a field where business suits and stillettos are required. Fortunately, being in Healthcare, I CAN wear comfortable shoes and not violate dress code. I just wear sneakers or find something sort-of unisex and buy a man's - like my Merrell Clogs.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FRAU
My ski boots have major punch-outs in them and so far have been fairly comfortable. During my Utah trip last month though, the liners started causing me pain on the left foot over that spot. I tried different socks and the sticky bunion pads to shift the pressure, but it didn't help much, so I need to get something done. It wasn't just dull pressure pain - it was sharp and intense -- and it still twinges me now and then a month later. This is the first time I have had persistent pain, so I'm going to have to take it seriously. I really doubt that I will ever be able to have the kind of "fit" that people here claim is necessary for "performance" - but I also have my doubts that that particular "fit" is necessarily healthy. For you - I don't think the fact that you don't hurt when you ski means that you aren't "pushing" hard enough - no pain is a good thing.
So, do you find that you have hard time putting pressure on your big toes while skiing? It may be hard for you to recognize since they're symmetric.
I haven't used the bunion pads for a while because they didin't make much difference in side-rubbing. I don't see how it'd help with weight bearing.

I don't have pain on the bunion after skiing because I somehow compensate by not putting enough weight on the left big toe. I realized that I somehow shift weight more toward the heel and makes the left ski skid more than the right. When walking, my slight limp comes not from the pain, but from putting weight on the outside of left foot. Well, it IS related to pain since if I walked normally, I bet I'd feel the twinge as well and my body is avoiding it.

I don't know where I'm going with this, other than I actually enjoy figuring out the root cause of things... I'm an engineer, so don't fault me for that.
post #11 of 15
I have em. At Green Mountain Orthodics they made the foot bed with support behind the bone that has the bunion. He knew what he was doing. I don't recomend them but for your situation they would be about the best. If you go to a non-skiing podiotrist you will get a corrective orthodic and you don't want that.

While you are there (after they try to sell you new boots - which you probably need) have them do the other adjustments like pushing and grinding.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brick
So, do you find that you have hard time putting pressure on your big toes while skiing? It may be hard for you to recognize since they're symmetric.
I haven't used the bunion pads for a while because they didin't make much difference in side-rubbing. I don't see how it'd help with weight bearing.

.....
I don't know where I'm going with this, other than I actually enjoy figuring out the root cause of things... I'm an engineer, so don't fault me for that.
Yes, I do have some trouble pressuring the Big toe - mainly because the big toe is sideways. When I pressure, I end up curling or hanging on with all my toes to do the pressuring - I've noticed that I do the same thing when I walk - thus the callouses on the ends of my 2nd and 3rd toes. I knew I did it before, just wasn't sure why.
Now I know that I'm not hanging on because the boots are too big, I'm hanging on because that is the way I have to deal with the physics of the loss of proper use of the Big toes.

The bunions pads don't help with weight-bearing unless the weightbearing problem is due to pain. When I have used them recently, it has been over the top(dorsal) area of the joint - that is where I get the most pain - not on the side, but it may be different for everybody.

If you are having a problem such that you are limping, you need to see an orthopedist or podiatrist.
post #13 of 15
Sorry I missed this one....Often, when I deal with bunions and ski boots, I will modify the liner @ the bunion area by removing material and sewing in a much thinner patch. Additionally, about 50% of the time, I will have to punch the shell to get the foot back into uncompensated alignment. Once the foot is naturally aligned, comfort and consistancy will return.
post #14 of 15
i got a couple big damn bunions whose days are numbered and cantman is so right i had my boots punched and liner altered in same way , much comfort realized. whoo hoo. get it done before you use them next and you will be so happy
post #15 of 15
I have similar issues, and this is what I did to work around the problem:

1. Low cost/short term solution: the ski store guy milled special pads, which he glued to the (exterior of) boot liner (in between the boot liner and the shell), and put in inexpensive, OTC, insole/arch-supports. Results: The pads and insoles helped to compensate for the non-standardized curvature in my legs/arches, however, once the boots packed out, I ditched the boots and liners.

2. Recommended, 5 star approach -- went to Surefoot: new boots (and better sizing/fit), custom liners, and custom orthodics. Results: I ski pain free. My feet are snug, and for once (in 18 years of skiing as an adult) I have full control, and can manipulate my legs/feet like the instructors tell me to (and the skis go the expected way), so that my lessons (learning to ski black/double black anywhere) are more effective. I have excelled faster this year, than in any other. They punched the shell out in several places, took the footboard out of the ski boot and milled it down to provide more room, and the custom orthodics & liners keep it all locked into place. Sometimes the shell shrinks, and they adjust it, but mainly, it's hassle and pain free. It's worth it to me.

btw - there are a lot of really good shoes for problematic feet now made by podiatrists.

Hope this helps.
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