What is a Bunion?

A bunion is a condition affecting the bones of the big toe. The toe itself points outwards, towards the second toe. The metatarsal bone  on the other side of the big toe joint points inwards. Together, they result in a prominence of the bones at the level of the big toe joint. The big toe can push the smaller toes sideways or underride the second toe, as shown on the left.

Bunions run in families. If your mother or father has a bunion, you are susceptible to developing them too, and this can even occur in childhood. The type of shoe that you wear may make this problem manifest itself earlier. High heels force the toes into the front of a shoe and this can mould the big toe and the little toe to form a bunion and bunionette ( a bunion of the little toe). During middle age, imbalances in muscles can cause bunions to get worse.

The big toe joint surfaces may no longer be congruent and this can lead to arthritis eventually. If the second toe is pushed up by the big toe, the second toe rubs on shoes and forms a hard area of skin.

If you have a bunion, it is best to see an orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in foot and ankle surgery. You should have xrays taken in a standing position - this is when the deformity is worst. It is also the position that your foot adopts in your shoe.

If your bunion is causing you pain, rubbing on your shoes or preventing you from wearing shoes, then surgery is a reasonable option. If you don’t have any symptoms, you should not have surgery until the bunion is causing you problems. There are risks associated with surgery - see ‘what your operation involves’. Unless you have symptoms, it is not worth taking these risks. An alternative to surgery is considering broad fitting shoes, but most patients have tried this before considering surgery. Insoles will not help your deformity and elastic socks and taping will not reverse the deformity.

about this condition
what your 
operation involvesBunion_Surgery.html
what to expect
after surgeryBunion_Rehab.html
back to homepagehomepage.html
back to conditions of the foot and ankleconditions.html

   before           after


left foot pre op

right foot 2 weeks post op

left foot 2 weeks post op

right foot 3 months post op