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.
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.
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.
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:
Generally, observation is enough to diagnose a bunion, as the bump is obvious on the side of the foot or base of the big toe. However, your physician may order X-rays that will show the extent of the deformity of the foot.
Non-surgical treatments for bunions may include:
Surgery might be recommended if non-surgical treatments fail to provide relief, and you are having trouble walking or are in extreme pain. Surgery can be used to return the big toe to its correct anatomical position. During surgery, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves are put back into correct order, and the bump is removed.
Many bunion correction procedures can be done on a same-day basis. The type of procedure will depend on your physical health, the extent of the foot deformity, your age, and your activity level. The recovery time will depend on which procedure or procedures are performed.
Surgery may be recommended to correct a tailor’s bunion, but is unlikely to be recommended for an adolescent bunion.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/31/2016