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With bunions, the right shoe makes a difference

Published in For the Health of It Author: Kristen Sigurdson,DPM Author: Kristen M. Sigurdson, DPM

You probably never think about it, but your feet are a masterpiece of engineering! When they are in good condition, they work in total harmony with the rest of your body, but if you neglect them, your feet may start to feel uncomfortable or painful. Problem feet can create other health problems, too.

Bunions — bony lumps on the side of your feet — are one of the more common problems seen by podiatrists. Bunions develop when your big toe starts to angle towards your second toe. The bunion eventually causes discomfort and pain. The skin over the lump can become red, blistered or infected.

Bunion Symptoms

If you have a bunion, you may have:

  • Pain or stiffness of the big toe joint
  • Swelling of the big toe joint
  • Difficulty walking
  • Difficulty finding shoes that fit

A fluid-filled space called a bursa also may develop under your skin in this area and this can be painful if it becomes inflamed. This is called bursitis.

If you experience this type of pain or any of the symptoms listed above, contact your health care provider for further guidance.


  • There is evidence that people can inherit a tendency to develop bunions. However, it doesn’t always follow that if your parents or grandparents have bunions, you will have them, too.
  • Women more commonly experience bunions more than men. This may be because the ligaments in the foot (the structures that connect bones together) are usually looser in women than men.
  • Bunions also are sometimes associated with joint diseases including osteoarthritis. However, there is usually no serious underlying cause.

Treatment Options

  • Using shoe inserts and padding.
  • Taking painkillers can help to ease the symptoms of a bunion. 
  • The previous two options treat the symptoms but can’t cure a bunion or stop it getting worse. If you have severe pain or discomfort from a bunion, you will need to have an operation to correct it.

Shoe Suggestions

One of the most important things you can do is to wear the right footwear:

  • The type of shoes you wear also may affect the development of a bunion. If you wear narrow or high-heeled shoes, this puts extra strain on the bones and muscles in your foot, pushing your toes together and forcing your big toe to point towards your other toes.
  • You should try to wear shoes with a slight heel elevation, wide shoes with laces or an adjustable strap that fits you properly.
  • Also choose shoes with a low heel and a wide toe box where you can wiggle your toes comfortably.