Health & Fitness

The bunion blues


King Features Syndicate

Paul Bunyan and his sidekick Babe, the Blue Ox, were characters in lumberjack folklore for years before William Laughead composed a direct mail pamphlet for the Red River Lumber Company in 1916. Then the duo became a sensation across the U.S., and with his massive boots and enormous stride, Bunyan seemed unstoppable.

But anyone with the bunion blues will tell you that real bunions can stop you in your tracks. Today, according to a review of the 2009 Framingham Foot Study, bunions affect 23 percent of people ages 18 to 65, and 36 percent of those older than 65.

What is a bunion? A bunion (hallux valgus) is a painful, bony bump at the base and side of the big toe. It often happens when the top of the big toe is consistently pushed against the toe next to it, forcing the bottom joint to stick out. Women’s narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes are a major cause; toe shape and arthritis also can play a role.

If you have a bunion, here’s what to do: Wear more comfortable shoes and discuss treatment options with a podiatrist. They include padding or an orthosis (corrective shoe insert), ice, ibuprofen, cortisone injection and, lastly, surgery. Osteotomy is surgery performed to realign the joint; exostectomy removes the bump.

If this isn’t enough of an incentive to get you to put away those stilettos, consider that taking better care of your feet will make your RealAge younger by helping you dodge nerve damage, lower back pain, a shortened Achilles tendon and sciatica.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit