A bunion is a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe.
The big toe bends toward the other toes, and the joint enlarges and sticks out.
This deformity can make walking painful.
Bunions are more common in women than in men. (1)
They often run in families.
Wearing tight, pointed shoes may lead to bunions or make them worse.
Bunions can also develop as a result of the shape of your foot, a foot deformity, or arthritis. (2)
What does bunion pain feel like?
Bunion pain can vary depending on the severity of the deformity.
Mild bunions may not be painful at all.
As the bunion gets worse, it can become increasingly difficult and painful to walk.
The big toe may rub against the inside of your shoe, causing pain and irritation.
In severe cases, the big toe may bend all the way back into the second toe.
This can cause severe pain and make it difficult to walk. (3)
If you have a bunion, you may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pain or soreness around the big toe joint
- Swelling around the big toe joint and tender to the touch
- Redness or soreness around the big toe joint
- Difficulty walking or moving the big toe
- Corns or calluses on the big toe or second toe
- A feeling of constant burning pain that may come and go
Bunions can be a very painful condition.
So if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor.
How are bunions diagnosed?
Your doctor will likely be able to diagnose a bunion just by looking at your foot.
They may also ask you about your symptoms and how the pain affects your ability to walk or wear shoes.
In some cases, X-rays may be taken to assess the severity of the deformity.
What are the treatment options for bunions?
The goal of bunion treatment is to relieve pain and pressure on the big toe joint.
This can be done with both non-surgical and surgical options.
Nonsurgical treatment options include:
- Wearing shoes that fit well and don’t rub or put pressure on the bunion
- Putting cushioning pads on the bunion to help relieve pain
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve pain
- Using ice to help reduce swelling
- Wearing a night splint to hold the big toe in place while you sleep
- Soak your foot in warm water several times a day
- Massage the area around the bunion
- Undergoing physical therapy to help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the big toe joint
Surgical treatment options include:
- Removing the bony bump (exostectomy)
- Repairing the ligaments around the big toe joint ( capsulorrhaphy)
- Realigning the big toe by breaking the bone and resetting it into place (osteotomy)
- Fusing the bones in the big toe joint to straighten it (arthrodesis)
Which treatment option is right for you will depend on the severity of your bunion, your age, and your activity level.
Your doctor will likely recommend non-surgical treatment options first.
If these don’t relieve your pain, surgery may be an option.
Bunions can be a painful condition that makes it difficult to walk.
If you have a bunion, it’s important to see a doctor so they can assess the severity of the deformity and recommend treatment options.