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What is a Bunion?

A Bunion is a bulge of bone or tissue around the joint of the foot. The swelling occurs either at the base of the great toe, or on the outside of the foot at the base of the little toe—commonly called a bunionette or tailor’s bunion. Bunions are often described as a bump, or prominent bony protrusion towards the inside of the foot that is progressive over time. With this deformity, the great toe is deviated towards the second toe rather than pointing straight ahead.

Bunions are one of the most common forefoot problems .This deformity may be seen during adolescence, although it is more prevalent in women older than 25 years of age. Misconceptions about this common foot deformity have contributed to unnecessary pain and suffering for years before seeking podiatric treatment.

The cause of a bunion is most often due to an inherited faulty mechanical structure of the foot. Certain foot types (i.e. pronated flat foot) can make an individual more prone to develop this deformity. The development of a bunion often occurs by wearing improper fitting shoes that have a tight narrow toe box that crowd the toes. This can often cause the foot to take on the shape of the shoe leading to worsening of the existing bunion.

Symptoms of a Bunion

  • Pain and soreness
  • Inflammation and redness
  • A burning sensation
  • Numbness along the side of the great toe due to nerve entrapment
  • Blistering leading to ulceration and calluses
  • Hammertoe deformity of the second toe-Lateral deviation of the great toe may cause an instability of the second toe and second metatarsalphalangeal joint {MTPJ}.
  • The second toe may overlap [dislocation syndrome] or underlap the great toe, or the toes may abut each other causing interdigital lesions or callus.
  • Plantar Callus [callus on the bottom of the foot]
  • Metatarsalgia [ inflammation of the ball of the foot]
  • Pronated Foot Type [-flat foot deformity] can cause the instability that causes a bunion
  • Ingrown toe nails


Early treatments are aimed at easing the pain of bunions, but they won’t reverse the deformity itself. Treatment options include:

  • Changing shoe wear to a wider lower heeled shoe
  • Padding placed over the area to minimize pain
  • Modification of activity [standing for a long period of time for example]
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, may help relieve the pain
  • Applying ice several times throughout the day helps to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Injecting a corticosteroid may be useful in treating the inflamed bursa [fluid fill sac located in a joint]
  • Custom orthodic devices
  • Physical Therapy

When to Seek Surgery

A thorough and proper evaluation is required to determine if you are a candidate for bunion surgery. Every bunion deformity is unique and standard procedures need to be customized for each individual patient’s specific bunion condition.

When the pain of a bunion interferes with daily activities and conservative treatments have been unsuccessful, it is time to consider surgical options with your podiatric surgeon. A variety of surgical procedures are performed to treat bunions which are designed to remove the “Bump” of the bone, correct the changes in the bony structure of the foot, narrow the foot as well as correct soft tissue changes that may also have occurred. The ultimate goal is to eliminate pain. Recent advances in surgical techniques have led to a very high success rate in treating bunions.

Meet Advanced Footcare Group

Advanced Footcare Group is led by the surgical expertise of renowned podiatrist, Dr. Howard D. Zaiff, D.P.M., FACFAS. Dr. Zaiff and his staff are dedicated to providing you with consistent quality care and innovative solutions that focus on the state of your well-being. The entire... Learn More »

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