All of the women in my family have horrible bunions. Are there any exercises that can ward off or help bunions?
Author: Richard Weil, MEd, CDE
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
A bunion is an irregular bony prominence (a bump) on the joint where your big toe meets the main bones of your foot. The bunion causes the end of the big toe to bend toward the other toes and crowd them, while the bone at the base of the toe where it meets the foot moves outward beyond the normal limits of where the bone should be. Pain is caused by inflammation and the bone pressing against the shoe. Bunions are more common in women, as you report, and are caused by a number of reasons, including shoes that are too tight, years of abnormal motion (like dancers on point), poor foot mechanics, bone deformities, flat feet, and arthritis.
Treatment usually includes shoes with a roomy toe box (you should be able to wiggle your toes; the toe box should be wide enough to accommodate the bony prominence), padding, over-the-counterarch supports, orthotics, and taping by a physical therapist or doctor. Surgery is an option when conservative treatment fails and you have chronic pain.