A common — but painful — foot deformity.

A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe. It forms when bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place. This forces the toe to bend toward the others, causing a lump of bone to jut out from the rest of the foot. If this happens on the outside of the foot along the little toe, it’s called a "bunionette" or "tailor’s bunion."

Bunions and bunionettes can be hereditary (passed down through family genes). However, wearing tight shoes and high heels are the leading cause of painful bunions.

Early bunion treatment options

Most early treatment options focus on relieving pressure on the bunion and keeping the joint deformity from getting worse. A podiatrist may recommend one or more of these treatments:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Cortisone injections
  • Orthotics
  • Padding and taping

Advanced bunion treatment options

If early treatments don’t help or the bunion gets worse, we may recommend podiatric surgery. A surgeon will remove the bony enlargement and restore normal toe joint alignment to relieve pain.

A simple bunionectomy, in which the surgeon removes only the bony enlargement, may be used for mild to moderate bunions. Severe bunions may require a more involved procedure, in which the surgeon will cut the bone and realign the joint.

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