I have a bunion, but it's still in the early stages. It does not require surgery. My doctor gave me a cortisone shot today to help with the pain as I do not want to take an oral anti-inflammatory long-term.
Is there any cardio exercise that I can do that will not irritate my bunion? I haven't exercised in almost 3 months because of it and I'm starting to gain a little weight.
Probably not. You have a structural problem with the great toe. The great toe balances all the weight of your body. Structural problems will only get worse unless the underlying problem is corrected. You can buy some time with orthotics, etc but in the log run, if the bunion keeps you from being as active as you want, the only option is surgical correction.
I would suggest the exercise bike, especially the recumbent one, the rowing machine and the elliptical trainer. All of these machines you can use without putting a great deal of stress on your forefoot, if there is pain you can almost do them flat footed. Plus with these machines you can get a high calorie burn and/or high pulse rate as you chose.
I had sprained toes 2 and 3 and while I couldn't walk comfortably barefoot I could do these machines without discomfort. The rowing machine works upper body as well as cardio and anaerobic (calorie burn).
Definitely recommend orthotics!
Be very careful with the cortisone, it can cause ligament and tendon damage if used more than once every 3-4 months.
Thanks! I do already wear orthotics. I'm a teacher and am on my feet all day, so I don't want to do anything more that will hurt my situation. I think the bike may be a good idea, maybe even swimming. I'll check out the local Y and see what they have to offer.
If you really don't want to do the surgery yet and are having bump pain that shoe modification and orthotics are not helping then there is a possible solution. There is a company out of New Jersey that makes custom made bunion guards that relieve pressure from the bunion when in shoes. They work great for those that just don't want the surgery. Their ad is found podiatry trade magazines. A cast needs to be taken of the great toe and area over the bunion, that is sent to this lab and they send back a custom latex shield. Kind of looks like a part of a thick rubber glove that slips over the great toe and has buildup on both sides of the bunion so the shoe rubs that instead of your foot. Cost is usually around 75-100 dollars by the time everything is done. They are not covered by insurance.
I found with my hallux limitus that biking and the eliptical weren't good alternatives. On the bike I could never get my feet positioned where there wasn't pressure on the great toe joint. And the eliptical at my gym needs more "push" than I could give with doing it flat footed. You would just have to try them and see. As for swimming, since I am allergic to chlorine and don't swim, I never think of that option!
Weight lifting with low weight and high reps will give you a cardio work out and burn calories. Just keep moving from one procedure to the next without taking a break and you will find yourself with a pretty good heart rate and sweating in no time. You can buy a weight bench and work most of your body and keep yourself pretty fit.
Another option in the pool is to do pool "running". Some people don't like the whole bit with lap swimming so you can wear a floatation belt (although not strictly needed - "run" without it and it is a harder workout) and use the running motion instead. I do that to simulate running and it is a good NWB alternative. It also is good for flexing the joints in the foot area without a lot of stress.