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Bunions are commonly misunderstood. Many people think a bunion is a growth on the side of the foot - but it isn’t!

What are bunions?

A bunion is a change in the alignment of the big toe joint. Instead of pointing straight ahead it leans toward the second toe, causing a distinct, boney bump on the side of the foot. Bunions are progressive and gradually the angle of the big toe joint will change, meaning symptoms such as pain may appear later. Smaller bunions (bunionettes) can develop on the outside joint of your little toe.

What are the symptoms of bunions?

The symptoms of bunions are not always present however can include the bump on the side of the foot at the big toe joint, pain and soreness, inflammation, redness and a burning sensation. Other conditions may be caused by the bunion, including calluses on the big toe, corns between the big and second toes, ingrown toenails and restricted movement of the toe.

What causes bunions?

The most common cause of bunions is genetics. This means that you most likely inherited the condition from a parent and other members of your family will have bunions. While ill-fitting footwear can exacerbate the pain of bunions, it is not often the root cause of the condition. Other causes include an injury leading to a foot deformity or an existing physical condition, such as inflamatory arthritis, or neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy.

How are bunions treated?

There are multiple ways bunion pain is treated and it’s important to seek the advice of a podiatrist to find out which is best for you.

  • Footwear - It’s important to wear shoes that fit your feet properly. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box and forgo those with pointed toes or high heels which may aggravate the condition. 
  • Padding & Silicon Moulded Spacers - Correction of the valgus displacement (turning in) of the big toe with custom fitted silicon impression putty to make interdigital wedges, separators, dorsal toe protectors and orthodigital splints to halt progession of the bunion.
  • Debridement of callosities
  • Behaviour - Avoid activity that causes bunion pain, including standing for long periods of time. 
  • Medications
  • Ice - Applying an ice pack several times a day helps reduce inflammation and pain. 
  • Orthotics - In some cases, custom orthotic devices may help to slow the progression of the bunion.
  • Surgery - If symptoms are extremely painful, surgery to straighten the toe may be the right option for you.
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