The Best and Worst Shoes for Bunions

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You may blame your parents for your bunions because genetics is the main culprit behind these bony protrusions on your toes, but your trendy shoes aren’t helping matters. If you have bunions, here are the shoes you need — and need to avoid.

It’s a popular myth that tight shoes give you bunions, those painful, bony protrusions that jut out from the base of your big toe. But bunions are more than mere bumps on your toe joint. They involve shifting and misaligning the metatarsal bone in your forefoot, an unnatural angle in your big toe, and, eventually, deformities in your smaller toes. 

It would take some powerful footwear to cause all of that damage. However, even though your shoes didn’t cause your bunions, it doesn’t mean the shoes you choose are off the hook.

No one knows bunions like Dr. Matthew Cerniglia, our experienced specialist at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas. Our patients throughout the Fort Worth area trust him to treat their bunions with care and expertise, whether they need some sage advice or a complex surgery.

You can do a lot to ease your bunion pain, and Dr. Cerniglia loves helping our patients help themselves. Here, he explains how shoes affect bunions and what to look for in your footwear.

Why do some people get bunions?

If you have a bunion, it’s likely due to your genetic makeup, as they tend to run in families. That said, researchers have yet to identify a gene responsible for bunions. You’re also at a higher risk for bunions if you have:

  • A short Achilles tendon
  • Short calf muscles
  • Weak connective tissue
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Flat feet

Women and people over 65 are more susceptible to bunions, and certain neuromuscular conditions, like polio and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, can contribute to bunion formation.

Shoes and bunions: What’s the connection?

Technically, ill-fitting shoes don’t cause bunions, but they can accelerate the development of these bothersome bone protrusions. If heredity makes you prone to bunions, your shoe choice matters more for you than most. Here are some pro tips to keep in mind next time you’re shoe shopping.

Worst shoes for bunions

If your parents have bunions, do your best to keep your feet healthy and slow the development of bony deformations by avoiding shoes with the following characteristics:

  • Pointy toes
  • Narrow width
  • High heels 

These ill-fitting shoes cram your toes into a tiny box that can cause problems for anyone, but especially people with a family history of bunions. And if you already have bunions, shoes with these features are definitely on your do-not-wear list. 

Best shoes for bunions

To prevent or slow bunion development, choose shoes with:

  • Wide toe boxes
  • Flexible upper construction
  • Proper arch support
  • Low heels (no higher than 2 inches)

If that sounds like it will limit your options and cramp your shoe style, here are some examples of the wide range of bunion-friendly footwear. Dr. Cerniglia can give you more recommendations after evaluating your feet. 

Living with bunions

The right footwear can help you live comfortably despite your minor bunions. Dr. Cerniglia may also recommend padding, taping, custom orthotics, and OTC anti-inflammatory medications.

Next-level treatments include physical therapy to ensure your bunions don’t lead to other foot problems, like calluses, corns, and gait issues. If your bunions are painful, Dr. Cerniglia may recommend steroid injections.

Severely deformed toe joints may require surgical intervention to remove inflamed tissue and realign your bones. Several surgical techniques address various bunion issues, and Dr. Cerniglia offers them all. 

If bunions run in your family, or you’re already dealing with them, act now to stop them in their tracks. Call or click to schedule an appointment at Ankle and Foot Institute of Texas.