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Bunions


A bunion is an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe that causes a bump on the joint. The big toe may turn toward the second toe (displacement), and the tissues surrounding the joint may be swollen and tender.

Bunions may be caused by foot mechanics that result in too much pressure on the big toe joint. Over time, the constant pressure forces the big toe out of alignment, gradually bending it toward the other toes. An inherited foot type (such as flatfoot), an abnormal foot motion (excessive pronation), and tight-fitting shoes may all contribute to the pressure.

A bunion may not have any symptoms, or the symptoms may develop gradually. Symptoms include:

  • Swelling or a bump at the base of the big toe.
  • Bending of the big toe toward the other toes.
  • A red, painful joint.
  • Irritated skin over the bunion.

Home treatment, including wearing shoes with low or no heels and with plenty of room in the toe box (the area that surrounds the toes), is often all that is needed to take pressure off the toe joint and relieve pain. If home treatment does not give enough relief, medication to relieve pain and swelling or surgery may be needed.

A bunionette or tailor's bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the little toe.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerBarry L. Scurran, DPM - Podiatry and Podiatric Surgery
Last RevisedFebruary 4, 2010

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