What Is A Bunion?

People think of a bunion as being as a bump on the side of the foot near the big toe. However, bunions go deeper than what we can see. Although the skin might be red, a bunion actually reflects a change in the anatomy of the foot.

Bunions happen over time. What begins as the big toe pointing toward the second toe ends up as changes in the actual alignment of the bones in the foot.

There is also a condition called tailor’s bunion or bunionette. This type of bump differs from a bunion in terms of the location. A tailor’s bunion is found near the base of the little toe on the outside of the foot.

Who gets bunions?

Anyone can get bunions, but they are more common in women. People with flat feet are also more likely to get bunions because of the changes in the foot caused by bunions.

There is also a condition called adolescent bunion, which tends to occur in 10-to-15-year old girls.

What causes bunions?

Bunions may be hereditary, as they often run in families. This suggests that people may inherit a faulty foot shape. In addition, footwear that does not fit properly may cause bunions. Bunions are made worse by shoes that are tight, fit poorly, or are too small. Bunions may also be caused by inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

What are the symptoms of bunions?

Many people do not experience symptoms in the early stages of bunion formation. Symptoms are often most noticeable when the bunion gets worse and with certain types of footwear. These include shoes that crowd the toes and/or high-heeled shoes. When symptoms do occur, they may include:

  • Physical discomfort or pain.
  • A burning feeling.
  • Redness and swelling.
  • Possible numbness.
  • Difficulty walking.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/31/2016.


  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Bunions Accessed 10/31/2016.
  • American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Bunions Accessed 10/31/2016.

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