Bunions

A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe-the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint-that forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. 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. The MTP joint itself may become stiff and sore, making even the wearing of shoes difficult or impossible. A bunion-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."


Symptoms

  • Development of a firm bump on the outside edge of the foot, at the base of the big toe.
  • Redness, swelling, or pain at or near the MTP joint.
  • Corns or other irritations caused by the overlap of the first and second toes.
  • Restricted or painful motion of the big toe.

Treatment

  • Apply a commercial, nonmedicated bunion pad around the bony prominence.
  • Wear shoes with a wide and deep toe box.
  • If your bunion becomes inflamed and painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling.
  • Avoid high-heeled shoes over two inches tall.
  • See your podiatric physician if pain persists.
Treatment options vary with the type and severity of each bunion, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important in avoiding surgery. Podiatric medical attention should be sought at the first indication of pain or discomfort because, left untreated, bunions tend to get larger and more painful, making nonsurgical treatment less of an option. The primary goal of most early treatment options is to relieve pressure on the bunion and halt the progression of the joint deformity. A podiatric physician may recommend these treatments:
  • Padding & Taping
  • Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Orthotics
  • Surgical Treatment (see before and after photos)

More information
You can also download our Podiatry-at-a-Glance newsletters: A Guide to Lateral Ankle Instability .