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Bunions are a very common problem. Generally they occur when the forefoot spreads and the big toe then deviates towards the other toes.

The prominent bone at the side of the big toe rubs against the shoe and the skin becomes reddened. Often a sac of fluid called a bursa may develop in the tissue overlying the prominent bone. This swelling, consisting of inflamed soft tissues and underlying prominent bone is what we call a ‘bunion’. If left untreated, they can be very painful.

  • Development of a firm bump on the base of the big toe
  • Redness, swelling or pain at the base of the big toe

Bunions tend to run in families. They are much more common in women.

Shoes with a narrow toe box and high heels do not account for the broadening but certainly contribute to the problem.

With age, the ligaments of the foot weaken in some people quicker than others, and the foot naturally broadens.

Bunions are diagnosed through a physical exam by your doctor. A weight bearing X-ray may be requested to better understand the severity

There are essentially 2 types of treatment:

  • Sensible shoes – wearing shoes with a broad toe and flat heels can be very helpful.
  • Surgical correction – there are many surgical procedures available, usually involving not only shaving the prominent bone but realigning the big toe and narrowing the forefoot. This generally involves cutting and moves bone(s) and holding the improved position with screws. Traditionally this has been done with an open technique but over recent years keyhole bunion (minimally invasive) surgery has become popular. Visit our treatment page for more information.

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