Bunions: Causes, Treatment, & Removal

Bunions are a common, sometimes painful foot deformity.

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What Is a Bunion?

Also known as hallux valgus, a bunion is a bony-like bump that forms in the joint where your big toe meets the rest of your foot. This bump is actually the result of your big toe leaning toward the rest of your toes instead of pointing forward. It is this misalignment that causes the telltale bump of a bunion.

Bunions get progressively worse over time, with the bump becoming larger or more pronounced. Symptoms typically occur after many years of having a bunion and sometimes not at all.

Bunions image - Bunion Surgery, Treatment and Removal

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Symptoms of Bunions

Man foot with bunionIn addition to the knobby bump at the joint of the big toe, possible bunion symptoms include:

  • Discomfort
  • Redness
  • Inflammation

You may also experience numbness or a burning sensation. Typically, patients only experience symptoms when they stand for long periods or if they wear shoes with a high heel or tight toe box.

What Causes Bunions?

Bunions are an inherited condition. That means that you’re more likely to develop them if others in your family have a particular foot type.
Contrary to popular belief, bunions are not caused by wearing high heels. However, if you have the inherited foot type AND regularly wear high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box, symptoms may appear sooner.

Diagnosing and Treating Bunions

PFA reviewing foot xray

As the bony protrusion is fairly obvious, diagnosis typically requires little more than a physical exam. However, your podiatrist may order x-rays to determine the degree of deformity and rule out any other causes.

Conservative treatment generally works well to treat bunions. Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Icing the area to reduce pain and inflammation
  • Modifying activities, particularly for those who stand for long periods
  • Placing pads over the bunion to cushion and reduce pain
  • Taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to manage swelling and discomfort
  • Wearing shoes with a wide toe box

Your podiatrist may also recommend custom orthotics to relieve pressure on the bunion.

Bunion Removal Surgery

If pain from your bunions is severe enough to impede normal activity, you and your doctor may discuss surgical options to remove the bunion. There are numerous bunion removal surgeries available, each intended to relieve pain. Surgery will also correct the foot’s structure as well as any changes in soft tissue.
If you have bunions, schedule an appointment with Dr. Jarman or Dr. Weintrub by calling (480) 497-3946 today. You may also schedule an appointment via our Zocdoc page.