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Does “yoga” for your toes cure bunions?

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Advertisements for devices claim they eliminate or prevent bunions by spreading your toes with yoga-like stretches, but do they really work? While a non-surgical solution is ideal, get the facts about these devices and bunions before you buy a set.

"One fact about bunions many don't know is that bunions are caused by physical abnormalities in the foot, which are usually inherited," explains Barry Klein, DPM, FACFAS, Virtua podiatrist. "Bunions form when certain tendons, ligaments and supportive structures where the big toe and foot meet no longer function correctly."

When this happens, the bone shifts and causes the bump. While you may be genetically prone to bunions, certain shoes can help bunions form. High-heeled and pointedtoed shoes apply an abnormal amount of pressure to the big toe irritating the bone and causing the bunion. Because women wear these types of shoes, they are seven times more likely than men to get bunions. If left untreated, bunions can become large and painful. A podiatrist can prescribe orthotics, inserts for your shoes, which control the abnormalities in your foot that cause the bunion.

"Orthotics enable your foot muscles, tendons and bones to function at their highest potential," says Dr. Klein. While orthotics are physician prescribed, there are also some things you can do at home to relieve bunion discomfort.

Wear shoes with enough room that enables you to wiggle your toes. Also, choose shoes that provide ample arch support. Wearing proper-fitting shoes prevents the shoe from rubbing and irritating your bunion, which makes it bigger.

Stretch and build muscle
Stretch your toes with toe spacers. Also, build your foot muscle by wrapping a rubber band around your big toe, pull it away from the other toes, hold for two to three seconds, and repeat. If the exercise hurts, stop immediately. Dr. Klein concludes: "Toe spacers, orthotics, proper-fitting shoes, and exercise can relieve some bunion discomfort, but there is no scientific evidence any of these cure bunions. The only way to get rid of a bunion is to surgically remove it."

If you have bunions, consult a podiatrist like Dr. Klein to learn what treatment is right for you.