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Quick Facts

Bunion

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Jun 2020| Content last modified Jun 2020
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What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony bump at the base of your big toe. The bump can be painful.

  • A bunion is really just the end of one of your foot bones

  • The end of the foot bone appears to stick out because your big toe is pushed in

  • Tight or pointy shoes can cause bunions

  • The joint at the base of your big toe can get inflamed and eventually develop arthritis

  • Sometimes, wearing wider shoes or using bunion pads in your shoes is enough to ease the pain

  • If needed, doctors do surgery to reshape or remove some bone

Bunion

A bunion is a bump at the base of the big toe. A bursa (fluid-filled sac) may develop over the joint and become inflamed and painful (bursitis).

Bunion

What causes bunions?

A bunion can develop when something forces your big toe in toward your other toes. Causes of bunions include:

  • Rolling your foot in when you walk (overpronation), which is most common if you have flat feet

  • Wearing tight or pointy shoes, particularly with high heels

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

Symptoms of bunions include:

  • Pain in your toe joint when wearing narrow or tight shoes

  • Swelling, redness, and warmth

  • Limited motion of the toe joint

How can doctors tell if I have a bunion?

Doctors can usually tell if you have bunions by looking at your feet. They may also:

  • Do x-rays

  • Take some fluid out of the joint using a needle and send it to a lab for testing

How do doctors treat bunions?

Doctors treat bunions by having you:

  • Wear shoes with a wide toe area

  • Put bunion pads in your shoes

  • Tape your foot

  • Wear special devices in your shoes (orthotics)

  • Take acetaminophen or NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, to relieve pain

If those don’t work, doctors may also:

  • Inject corticosteroids into the bunion

  • Do surgery (bunionectomy)

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Swelling
Swelling is a condition caused by excess fluid in the tissues. The fluid involved in swelling is primarily water. Swelling may occur in one or several parts of the body, often the feet and lower legs. Swelling that occurs throughout the body has different causes than swelling in a single limb or part of a limb. Which of the following is a frequent cause of swelling in a single limb or part of a limb?
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