A bunion, also called a “hallux valgus” deformity, occurs when the big toe begins pointing toward the outside of the foot. This makes the joint at the bottom of the big toe stick out, and sometimes some extra bone also forms in this area to make a bump. In most adults, bunions come from a lifetime of wearing tight shoes, but we don’t know why some people seem more likely to get them than others. We also don’t know why some people that have bunions have a lot of pain and others do not.


Disruption of the normal balance of forces exerted on the joints and tendons of your feet often results in the formation of a bunion. Common causes of bunions include, wearing high-heeled or ill-fitting shoes, an inherited structural defect, foot injuries, deformities from birth, and medical conditions such as arthritis.


Signs and symptoms of a bunion include a large bump on the outside of the base of your big toe, swelling, redness, or soreness around the joint of the toe, thickening of the skin at the toes base, and corns or calluses developing where the first and second toes overlap. Others include persistent or intermittent pain, and restricted movement of the big toe.

If the bunion is too severe, the big toe will crowd the second toe. This creates a hammertoe deformity which may also need to be corrected.


Non-surgical treatment of bunions may relieve pain and pressure. Some of these include, changing shoes, padding and taping your foot, taking medications such as Acetaminophen and Ibprofen to reduce pain and swelling, and wearing padded shoe inserts.

There are a variety of different bunion surgeries. The choice of the procedure is individualized to your particular foot. Most of the time, the surgeon cuts the long bone that leads to the big toe (the “first metatarsal”). This can be done at either end of the bone depending upon how bad the bunion is. He also may shave off any extra bone that has formed to eliminate the bump on the inside of the foot.

Some patients have a little arthritis in the joint at the base of the big toe. If the arthritis is too severe, the only way the bunion can be fixed is by fusing the joint (making the two bones grow together). Other patients have no arthritis and have very good motion of the joint to begin with. Because all surgery makes some scarring, it is possible to lose a little motion in the big toe following bunion surgery.

OrthoNeuro Physicians that Treat this Condition: