You've started to notice a bump on the side of your toe.  Your mom has one also even though it's much bigger and she complains all the time how it hurts.  Are you next?  Probably!  A bunion is an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe.  The big toe may turn in toward the second toe, and the tissues surrounding the joint may be swollen and tender.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of bunions include irritated skin around the bunion, pain when walking, joint redness and pain, and possible shifting or crowding of the big toe toward the other toes.  Blisters may form more easily around the site of the bunion as well.

Having bunions can also make it harder to find shoes that fit properly; bunions may force a person to have to buy a larger size shoe to accommodate the width the bunion creates. Wearing high heels also becomes more of a problem for those with bunions as the heel puts pressure on the toes, which may be irritating to most people in general but particularly for people with bunions.

When bunion deformity becomes severe enough the foot can hurt in different places even without the constriction of shoes because it then becomes a mechanical function problem of the forefoot.


Conservative treatment would include changing your shoes, padding your bunion, possibly getting different orthotics (accommodative padding and shielding), rest, ice, and medications. These treatments help manage the often painful symptoms of a bunion rather than correct the actual deformity. However, early intervention can help prevent a bunion from becoming larger or more painful.  Surgery may be necessary if discomfort and pain is severe enough or when correction of the deformity is desired.

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