Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe. This condition occurs when some of the bones in the front part of the foot move out of place. As a result, the tip of the big toe is pulled toward the smaller toes and forces the joint at the base of the big toe to stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore.

Common Symptoms

  • A bulging bump on the outside of the base of the big toe
  • Swelling, redness, or soreness around the big toe joint
  • Corns or calluses
  • Persistent or intermittent pain
  • Restricted movement of the big toe

Cause & Anatomy

Bunions can develop for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Genetics: A hereditary predisposition to bunions is common.
  • Foot structure: Some people have foot structures that are more prone to bunions, such as flat feet or low arches.
  • Ill-fitting shoes: Wearing shoes that are too tight, narrow, or high-heeled can contribute to bunion development.
  • Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions can increase the risk of bunions.
  • Injuries: Foot injuries can lead to bunion formation.

The anatomy of a bunion involves the misalignment of the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe. This misalignment causes the big toe to lean toward the second toe, resulting in the characteristic bump.


  • Physical examination: A doctor can often diagnose a bunion by examining the foot.
  • X-rays: X-rays help determine the severity of the bunion and identify the underlying cause by showing the alignment of the foot bones.


  • Proper footwear: Wear shoes with a wide toe box and avoid high heels or tight shoes.
  • Foot exercises: Strengthening and stretching exercises can help maintain foot flexibility and strength.
  • Orthotics: Custom or over-the-counter shoe inserts can help improve foot alignment and reduce stress on the bunion.


  • Non-surgical treatments:
  • Padding and taping: Cushioning the bunion with pads and taping the foot into a normal position can help reduce pain and stress on the bunion.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage pain and inflammation.
  • Ice: Applying ice packs can help reduce swelling.
  • Orthotics: Custom orthotic devices can help alleviate pain and correct foot mechanics.


  • Bunionectomy: Surgery to remove the bunion and realign the toe joint. Various surgical techniques exist, depending on the severity of the bunion.


Post-surgery rehabilitation focuses on:

  • Pain management: Managing pain and swelling through medication and ice.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises to restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  • Gradual return to activities: Slowly increasing activity levels to avoid overloading the healing foot.


Can bunions be prevented?
While genetics play a role, wearing proper footwear and taking care of your feet can help reduce the risk.

Are bunions always painful?
Not always. Some people have bunions without experiencing any pain.

Do bunions get worse over time?
Yes, bunions can worsen over time, especially if left untreated or if ill-fitting shoes continue to be worn.

When should I see a doctor about a bunion?
If you experience persistent pain, difficulty finding comfortable shoes, or if the bunion affects your daily activities, consult a doctor.

Can bunions reoccur after surgery?
While bunion surgery is often successful, there is a risk of recurrence, especially if post-operative care and recommendations are not followed.

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