Bunions

Person with bunions

​A bunion is an enlargement of the bone or tissue around the joint at the base of your big toe. It is due to a progressive improper alignment of the toe joint. This can be a hereditary problem that occurs when the joint is stressed for a prolonged time and causes your big toe to point toward your second toe. This throws your foot bones out of alignment and forms a bump on the inner side of your foot. If the bump is located near the base of your little toe, it is called a bunionette or tailor’s bunion.

Women tend to get bunions more often than men, possibly because they are more likely to wear tight, pointed shoes. Bone deformity, arthritis and genetics may also cause bunions.

Bunion symptoms

Bunions are a progressive disorder, which means they can worsen over time. The most common symptom is a noticeable bump at the base of the big or little toe. Some symptoms may not appear until the bunion is in its later stages. 

Symptoms include:

  • A burning sensation in the affected foot

  • Inflammation and redness

  • Numbness in the foot and toe

  • Restricted movement within the affected toe

  • Severe foot pain even when wearing comfortable shoes

  • Swelling at the base of the toe

Bunion diagnosis

A bunion is often easy to see. Your big toe turns towards the other toes and may even cross over onto your second toe, which causes a prominent bump. 

The specialists at The Christ Hospital Health Network conduct a thorough examination of the affected area to assess the damage to your foot and toes. X-rays may also be used to determine the bunion’s severity and examine the angle between your toe and foot. 

Bunions treatment

Our team of orthopedic specialists works together to develop an individualized care plan based on your unique needs and the severity of your bunion. 

Treatment may include:

  • Cortisone injections—to relieve swelling and inflammation.

  • Ice—applied to reduce swelling.

  • Pads or tape—to cushion the area near the bunion.

  • Pain relieving medication—like ibuprofen or naproxen.

  • Proper-fitting shoes—with a wide-toe box and low, flat heel.

  • Shoe orthotics—inserts to support and cushion your foot.

  • Surgery to correct the deformity. The main reason to consider surgery is for extreme pain. Surgical treatment includes:

    • Osteotomy—a corrective procedure that realigns the joint.

    • Arthrodesis—a fusion of the big toe joint.

    • Exostectomy—surgery to remove the bump on the toe joint.

Your physician will outline all your treatment alternatives and help you decide which treatment option is best for you.

Find a foot and ankle specialist near you.