How to prevent bunions?

A bunion (also called hallux valgus) is a deformity of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe. It develops when the first metatarsal bone of the foot turns outward and the big toe points inward (toward the other toes), causing the joint to jut. Most shoes dont accommodate the resulting protrusion and so put pressure on the misaligned joint. High heels can exacerbate the problem because they tip the bodys weight forward, forcing the toes into the front of the shoe. This may help to explain why bunions a lot more common in women than in men.

A bunion is most likely to develop when susceptible feet are repeatedly squeezed into narrow, pointed-toe footwear. Shoes with narrow toes can trigger a bunion, but theyre not the underlying cause. Bunions run in families, because foot type is hereditary, and some types are more prone to bunions than others. Low arches, flat feet, and loose joints and tendons all increase the risk. The shape of the metatarsal head (the top of the first metatarsal bone) also makes a difference: if its too round, the joint is less stable and more likely to deform when squeezed into shoes with narrow toes.

Some people are more susceptible than others to get bunions, such as:

(1) People in occupations such as teaching and nursing, which involve a lot of standing and walking

(2) Ballet dancers, whose feet suffer severe repetitive stress.

(3) Pregnant women because hormonal changes loosen the ligaments and flatten the feet

(4) People suffering from arthritis, which damages the cartilage within the joint.

You can significantly reduce your risk of developing symptomatic bunions by wearing shoes that fit properly.
Poorly fitting shoes can contribute to the development of bunions. Bunions are rare in populations that do not wear shoes. It is best to avoid wearing shoes with high heels or pointy toes. Wearing shoes that fit properly can reduce your risk of developing a symptomatic bunion.

Your shoes should be wide enough for your toes not to be forced together and there should be enough room for them to move. Shoes that are made of soft leather and are wide fitting are a good choice. When selecting shoes, it is useful to have your feet measured properly because many people wear shoes that are the wrong size.

You may also want to visit a podiatrist (a foot specialist), who will examine your feet and give you advice about suitable footwear. Wearing shoes that are too tight and do not fit properly is also likely to make an existing bunion worse....