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What Is a Bunion?  

A Hallux Valgus, commonly referred to as a Bunion, most often presents as a bump or protrusion on the side of the big toe (great toe). This changes the structure of the foot as the big toe begins to lean toward the second toe moving out of its proper position which is naturally pointing straight ahead. This lean of the big toe is what causes the bones to move out of alignment which is what results in the bunion’s bump.


A bunion is a disorder that will worsen over time, and the condition of the foot will only become more pronounced without proper treatment. The start of a bunion is the leaning of the big toe which over the course of time - sometimes years - produces the bunion bump, which will become greater in size. Some people will never have symptoms, those who do will likely experience symptoms later in the bunion development.



In most people, bunions are caused by poor structure of the foot which is passed down from family with the similar condition. It is not specifically the bunion which is inherited, but a particular type of foot structure that may lead to a bunion.

Poor footwear which don’t allow room for the toes will not cause bunions, though it may worsen the condition of the leaning toe which may cause bunion symptoms to pronounce earlier.



Bunion symptoms which happen at the bump site may include one or more of the following

  • Numbness in the foot is possible

  • Redness and inflammation

  • Soreness and pain

  • A burning feeling


Most people will experience these symptoms when wearing shoes with a tight toe box or high heels, both of which will crowd the toes. Due to the particular effect of tight shoes and high heels on the foot, women are often more prone to symptoms than men. Additionally, symptoms of bunions may be irritated due to long periods of time on your feet.



Bunions are fairly obvious upon a visual inspection - the bump is visible on the side of the big toe at the base of the first joint.  Although to properly diagnose the full condition, your podiatrist may order x-rays to fully understand the severity of the deformity and determine the extent of the structural change to the foot.

Bunions will not simply go away and will get worse with time. Some bunions cases will get worse more quickly than others, though not all bunions are the same. Your podiatrist will make a determination and then outline a treatment plan that will address your specific needs.


Nonsurgical Treatment

At times, bunions will only need to be monitored and your podiatrist may order recurrent examinations with e-rays to be certain that the bunion is not progressing to a point of joint damage.


However, in many people, treatment of some kind will be necessary. Pain reduction is an early goal of treatment, although this will not fix the deformity causing the pain.  Other types of treatment may include:

  • Orthotics - For certain individuals, your podiatrist may recommend a custom orthotic device.

  • Bunion Padding - Pads made specifically for bunions and bunion pain may help. These may be offered by your podiatrist or found at a drugstore.

  • Change in activity - Reducing long periods of time on your feet as well as any activity that causes bunion pain.

  • Ice - Ice Packs applied many times a day may help reduce pain and inflammation.

  • Proper footwear - Proper footwear is always important and more so with anyone with a foot condition like bunions. Shoes with a wide toe box and avoiding high heels will help in limiting pain associated with bunions.

  • Medication - In order to reduce inflammation and pain, your podiatrist may prescribe oral nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

  • Injection Therapy - While injections of corticosteroids are a rare treatment for bunions, it may be used to treat an inflamed bursa (fluid-filled sac located around a joint).

When Is Surgery Needed?

Should nonsurgical treatment not relieve pain from bunions or when bunion pain causes problems with daily life, your podiatrist may consider a surgical solution. A discussion with your podiatrist will be the next step in determining if surgery is an option for you.


There are many procedures that may effectively treat bunions through surgery. The goal of these procedures is to realign the bones of the foot and the changes that occurred as a result of the bunion including soft tissue changes and to remove the bump of bone. As well the goal of pain reduction and correction of the deformity.


Although Bunions are a rather common foot problem, there is often confusion over what is causing foot pain and what should be done to fix the problem. Many people experience years of unnecessary pain before going to a doctor for proper treatment.

Do not accept pain as a part of your daily life in consideration of your feet. Reach out to a qualified podiatrist for any foot pain right away.


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