What is a Bunion?

A bunion forms when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place causing an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe. This forces the big toe to bend toward the others, causing a painful lump of bone on the foot. The metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe, carries a lot of the body’s weight when walking, and bunions can cause extreme pain if left untreated. Wearing shoes can become difficult or impossible as the MTP joint can become stiff and sore.

Bunions tend to run in families, however it is not the bunion that is hereditary, it is the foot. Bunions are generally caused by the way we walk, the inherited foot type, and the type of shoes worn, as well as foot injuries, neuromuscular disorders or congenital deformities. Abnormal foot function caused by any of these leads to pressure being exerted on the foot can result in joint deformities such as bunions. Women are more prone to bunions than men because of the type of shoes typically worn.


  • Redness, swelling or pain at or near the MTP joint
  • Growth of a firm bump on the outer edge of the foot at the base of the big toe
  • Irritations caused by the overlap of the first and second toes
  • Restricted or painful motion of the big toe


Treatment for bunions varies with the severity of each. Identifying the condition in its early stages is important in avoiding surgery. The primary goal of early treatment is to relieve pressure and stop the progression of the deformity. However, when early treatment fails or the bunion has progressed past a point where conservative treatment will be effective, several surgical procedures can be recommended by your treating podiatric physician. |


  1. The American Podiatric Medical Association