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If you look down at your feet and see bunions, you might have several thoughts.

You might think of the pain they can cause as you move through your daily life. You might wonder if they’re a common issue or if you’re one of the few dealing with them. You might think about how unattractive they can be. But know that bunions are an extremely common condition that can impact you every day.

Whether you have large bunions (causing your second toe to overlap your big toe) or small bunions, the experts at Cleveland Clinic can help you.

Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Bunion Care?

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Demonstrated expertise

All of our specialists are board-certified and have extensive training in diagnosing and treating bunions — with or without surgery. When you come to Cleveland Clinic, you can be sure of the expert quality care you’ll receive.

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Patient-centered care

We understand that although bunions are a common problem, not all cases are the same. We’ll listen and offer a treatment that’s specially designed just for you.

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Collaborative care

At Cleveland Clinic, you’ll have access to our team of podiatrists (foot specialists), foot and ankle surgeons and rehabilitation experts. This collaborative approach means we’ll work together to craft a treatment plan that works for you. Meet our team.

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National recognition

U.S. News & World Report has consistently ranked Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s top hospitals. And in 2021, Newsweek named us one of the world’s top hospitals.

Bunion Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic

Often your healthcare provider can diagnosis a bunion by simply looking at your foot. However, your provider may also recommend an X-ray to confirm that what you’re experiencing is pain from a bunion and not from a bone spur — which may require different treatment. An X-ray will also show the bone alignment in your foot and if there’s any joint damage.

Bunion Treatment at Cleveland Clinic

Left untreated, bunions can become larger and more painful. They can affect the way you walk and can lead to other foot conditions, such as arthritis. It’s often best to seek treatment right away to avoid issues in the future.

Nonsurgical bunion care

The only way to “cure” a bunion is to have it removed surgically. However, there are several treatment options that don’t require surgery that can relieve pain and improve your quality of life. Your healthcare provider might recommend:

  • Bunion pads and taping: Over-the-counter pads can cushion the bunion and prevent it from rubbing against your shoe, which can be painful. Think of this as a pillow in your shoe. Medical tape can also be used to keep your toes in place.
  • Orthotics: Over-the-counter or custom shoe inserts (orthotics) can help keep your toes aligned. A spacer can also be used between your big toe and the toe next to it.
  • Pain relievers: Anti-inflammatory, nonsteroidal medications (both oral and applied to the skin), along with ice packs, warm foot soaks and massage can help with pain and swelling.
  • Proper fitting footwear: High heels and shoes with pointed toes are often culprits when it comes to bunions. When you’re buying shoes, picking options with a lower heel and more space in the toe area can provide relief.
  • Steroid injections: Typically a last resort before surgery, steroid injections may reduce pain and swelling, but the results vary greatly with each individual case.

Surgical bunion care

If nonsurgical treatments don’t help or your provider is worried that your bunion may lead to other painful foot conditions — such as hammertoes, bursitis, bone spurs or osteoarthritis— your provider may recommend surgery.

There are a variety of surgical techniques your healthcare provider might use, depending on how severe the bunion is and how it’s affecting your daily life. The most common is an osteotomy. In this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision on the top of the big toe to shave down the bump, cut the bone and shift it over into a corrected position. Your surgeon will then use screws or pins to hold the bone in place. You’ll be able to go home the same day.

After surgery, you’ll most likely be able to go back to your normal activities in six to 12 weeks. Swelling, however, may last for six to nine months. It’s important to see your healthcare provider for follow up visits after surgery to make sure your foot is healing properly.

Taking the Next Step

Don’t let a small bump turn into a big problem down the road. Walking and wearing shoes shouldn’t be painful. If you have a bunion, it’s important to put your best foot forward and get help right away. You may also be able to avoid surgery by addressing the problem sooner than later.

Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s bunions experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.

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Getting an appointment with Cleveland Clinic’s bunions experts is easy. We’re here to help you get the care you need.


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