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A bunion is a bony protuberance that appears on the external surface of especially the big toe, making the toe angle toward the adjacent toe. It is an extra bone and a fluid-filled sac that grows at the base of the big toe.

Causes of bunions

Bunions are common in women and have a tendency to run in families (heredity). The major cause of bunions is prolonged wearing of ill-fitting shoes that are tight, narrow, and high-heeled, which compress the toes and exerts excessive pressure while walking. The condition worsens and gets more painful as the bump grows bigger in size. Certain conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis may also cause bunions.


Symptoms may include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Shift of the affected toe towards the adjacent toe
  • Change in the shape of the foot
  • A bony mass at the joint surface of the big toe
  • Restricted movements of the big toe


Your orthopaedic surgeon diagnoses a bunion based on the following:

  • Physical examination to evaluate the nature of the bunion
  • Foot or ankle X-rays to determine the bone and soft tissue damage


A bunion may be treated either by non-surgical or surgical methods. The non-surgical treatment options include:

  • Medications to help alleviate pain and associated symptoms
  • Cortisone injections
  • Ice packs to reduce inflammation
  • Wearing broad-toed shoes that fit properly to reduce the compression of the toes
  • Use of bunion pads, cushions and splints to protect and alleviate painful foot bunions
  • Selecting properly fitting shoes that match the shape of your feet


The surgical method of removal or excision of a bunion is known as bunionectomy. The goal of bunion surgery is to relieve pain and restore the normal position and function of the big toe. Some of the surgical procedures may include excising the swollen tissue, straightening out the toe or permanently joining the bones of the affected bone.


Always try to take care of the bunion at the initial stage by wearing shoes that adequately accommodate your feet.


Avoid wearing poorly fitting shoes to prevent irritation and compression of the toes which may lead to the growth of a bunion.


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