Bunions are hard, painful bumps that appear on the big toe joint

Bunions appear most often in women, and are usually caused by wearing fashionable tight, pointy and narrow high-heeled shoes that constrict the foot.

Poorly fitting shoes don't cause bunions, but can aggravate existing ones.


Misaligned big toe joints that can become swollen and tender. The first joint of the big toe slants outward, angling the big toe toward other toes. Bunions tend to run in families, but can be aggravated by tight shoes. Conservative treatment includes padding, choosing shoes with wide toe box, and orthotic devices. Pain medicines and surgery to relieve pain may be needed in severe cases, but should not be done for cosmetic purposes.


Some people with bunions can eliminate pain with conservative approaches such as wearing bunion pads, avoiding high heels, and buying comfortable shoes that are shaped like their feet and that provide more toe room.

Sometimes, bunions can be treated without surgery, but when bunions limit or affect one's daily activities, bunion surgery may be appropriate.

A cortisone injection may be given to relieve inflammation and pain.

Advanced surgical techniques have improved outcomes for bunion surgery. The type of surgery needed depends on the patient's age, activity level, and degree of deformity.

The surgery doesn't merely remove the "bump of bone," which won't usually produce lasting results but rather a screw is used to realign the bone for more stable bone alignment. Recovery time usually takes about four weeks.

Prevention / Risk Factors

The most effective way to prevent bunions is by wearing comfortable, correctly fitting shoes. They should be wide in the instep and in the toes, and have cushioned soles and a heel no higher than 2 1/4 inches. If you already have a bunion, you can wear cushioned pads inside the shoe to protect the joint from further damage.

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