What is a Bunion?

A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe, the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing an often painful lump of bone on the foot. Since this joint carries a lot of the body's weight while walking, bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated. Bunions - from the Latin "bunio", meaning enlargement - can also occur on the outside of the foot along the little toe, where it is called a "bunionette" or "tailor's bunion".


Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe. Redness, swelling, or pain near the big toe joint. Callouses can also form as a result of the bunion.

How do you get a bunion?

Bunions form when the normal balance of forces that is exerted on the joints and tendons of the foot becomes disrupted. This can lead to instability in the joint and cause the deformity. They are brought about by years of abnormal motion and pressure.

Parents who suffer from poor foot mechanics can pass their problematic foot type on to their children, who, in turn, are also prone to developing bunions.

Other causes of bunions are foot injuries, neuromuscular disorders, or congenital deformities. People who suffer from flat feet or low arches are also prone to developing these problems, as are arthritic patients and those with inflammatory joint disease. Occupations that place undue stress on the feet are also a factor; ballet dancers, for instance, often develop the condition.

What can you do for relief?

Conservative treatment for bunion pain includes padding, taping, and activity modifications. Treatment options vary with the type and severity of each bunion. Podiatric medical attention should be sought at the first indication of pain or discomfort because bunions tend to get larger and more painful.

A podiatric physician may recommend these treatments: Wider Shoegear, Padding & Taping, Medication, Physical Therapy, or Orthotics.

When early treatments fail or the bunion progresses past the threshold for such options, podiatric surgery may become necessary to relieve pressure and repair the toe joint.


The goal of surgery is to restore the normal alignment of the toe joint, and relieve pain. There are numerous different procedures for bunion correction depending on the radiographic exam and physical findings.

Recuperation takes time, and swelling and some discomfort are common for several weeks following surgery. Pain, however, is easily managed with the assistance of medications.

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