What Is A Bunion?

A bunion is a bony bump located at the base of the big toe, making the big toe lean towards the second toe. It causes misalignment, which leads to discomfort and pain. The bunion may be red and painful, and the joint in the area may become swollen and stiff, making walking painful. Left untreated, it can get worse with time.


Causes Of Bunions

Several factors contribute to the development of bunions, including:


Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to develop bunions. Having a family history of bunions puts you at higher risk.

Foot Structure

Some people are at a higher risk of developing a bunion due to their foot structure. Bunions can be caused by flat feet or ligaments that are too loose.


Footwear that is too tight, narrow and/or high can cramp the toes, causing a bunion.


Inflammation and joint damage from arthritis can be painful and worsen the appearance of  bunions.


Past foot injuries may provoke the development of bunions.

How To Prevent A Bunion

Preventing bunions is all about looking after your feet and treating them well. This includes:

Picking the right footwear that fits and has a wide toe box.

Avoiding high heels or pointed shoes.

Maintaining a healthy weight, as being overweight adds more stress to your feet and may heighten the potential development of bunions.

Exercising keeps your feet strong and flexible and helps protect against faulty alignment. Toe stretches and heel lifts are a good option to consider.

Custom orthotics can help distribute pressure more evenly across your feet.

If your job includes standing for long periods, take breaks and shift your weight from one foot to the other.


Symptoms Of Bunions

Common bunion symptoms include:


Diagnosing A Bunion

Diagnosing a bunion involves a thorough examination of the foot to identify the severity and impact of the deformity.

Medical History

Your doctor will take a medical history, including asking you about your symptoms, whether any family members have had bunions and what type of shoes you wear. This information can help pinpoint possible causes and related factors leading to bunions.

Physical Exam

During the physical exam, the doctor will look at your foot for signs of a bunion. For instance, they might ask you to move your toe to test how far you can move it and to help identify where you feel pain.

X-ray Imaging

X-ray images of the bones in your foot show the severity of the bunion and any associated deformities, which can then help plan the appropriate treatment.


An ultrasound can provide images of the soft tissue around the joint and reveal inflammation or damage.

MRI Scan

An MRI provides a detailed image of the bones and soft tissue, helping to evaluate the severity of the bunion and any other issues.


Bunion Treatments

Treatment options for bunions depend on the severity and lifestyle of the patient


Orthotics (e.g. insoles) may be helpful as they can take the pressure off the bunion and provide arch support.

Changes In Footwear

Wearing shoes with a large toe box and good built-in arch support can relieve the pressure on the bunion. Avoiding high heels and narrow pointed shoes is especially important.

Pain Management Medication

Painkillers such as anti-inflammatories and paracetamol can reduce pain and inflammation. In some situations, your doctor may suggest stronger medication.


Surgery for bunion treatment is often considered when non-surgical methods fail to relieve pain and discomfort. This procedure repositions the bone, ligaments, and tendons to address the malalignment of the big toe joint. Depending on the severity of the bunion, different surgical techniques may be employed, such as removing the swollen tissue around the joint, straightening the big toe by removing part of the bone, dividing the bone and shifting it across to obtain a correction, or permanently joining the bones of the big toe joint. The goal of bunion surgery is to alleviate pain, restore normal foot function, and improve the overall appearance of the foot.

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