Bunions and hammertoes are caused, in part, by an abnormal balance of the muscles and tendons of the toes. This leads to enlargement of the joints, and in turn, a malpositioning of the front of the foot. “When someone with bunions and hammertoes puts on a pair of high heel and walks, their joints rub excessively. This causes increased friction and results in redness, swelling, and pain,” says Dr. Krista Archer, a podiatric surgeon and foot specialist. “Squeezing feet, already aching from bunions and hammertoes, into high heels can bring on agony and put a real damper on a festive event.” Although definitive treatment of bunions and hammertoes most often requires surgery, there are several self-treatment steps your clients can take to lessen their pain and enjoy an evening out.

> Always bring a back up. The trick to wearing high heels comfortably is to limit your constant standing time in them to no more than four hours. Bring along a pair of comfy flats you can discreetly slip into to give feet a rest.

> Pad your soles. Shoe pads are available in different shapes. Depending on your symptoms, these pads are applied to the inside of your high heels. If you have been experiencing ball of foot pain for years, you may have fat pad breakdown. This can be treated with an injectable filler to plump up and pad from within.

> Pad your toes. If bunions and the tops of your toes get very red after high heel wearing, you can buy toe pads to either stick onto or slip over the painful area. Keep in mind the thinner the better, as you don’t want to tighten the shoe further. A prescription patch is also available. It is lined with numbing medicine (Lidoderm) that can be cut to specific shapes and applied to painful areas.    

> Decrease inflammation and swelling. Before you go out to your party, soak your feet in icy-cold water for 10-15 minutes. Follow this with elevating your legs and feet for 20 minutes. This strategy will reduce foot and leg swelling and calm painful and irritated joints. Ibuprofen can also reduce pain and inflammation, but use caution if consuming alcohol. Also try compression hosiery to reduce swelling and keep feet from getting more swollen over the course of a party.

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