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Updated: Aug 26, 2019

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore.

Wearing tight, narrow shoes might cause bunions or make them worse. Bunions also can develop as a result of an inherited structural defect, stress on your foot or a medical condition, such as arthritis.

Smaller bunions (bunionettes) can develop on the joint of your little toe


The signs and symptoms of a bunion include:

A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe

Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint

Corns or calluses — these often develop where the first and second toes overlap

Persistent or intermittent pain

Restricted movement of your big toe if arthritis affects the toe

When to see a doctor

Although bunions often require no medical treatment, see your doctor or a doctor who specializes in treating foot disorders (podiatrist or orthopedic foot specialist) if you have:

Persistent big toe or foot pain

A visible bump on your big toe joint

Decreased movement of your big toe or foot

Difficulty finding shoes that fit properly because of a bunion


There are many theories about how bunions develop, but the exact cause is unknown. Factors likely include:

Inherited foot type

Foot injuries

Deformities present at birth (congenital)

Experts disagree on whether tight, high-heeled or too-narrow shoes cause bunions or whether footwear simply contributes to bunion development.

Bunions might be associated with certain types of arthritis, particularly inflammatory types, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Risk factors

These factors might increase your risk of bunions:

High heels. Wearing high heels forces your toes into the front of your shoes, often crowding your toes.

Ill-fitting shoes. People who wear shoes that are too tight, too narrow or too pointed are more susceptible to bunions.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Having this inflammatory condition can make you more susceptible to bunions.

Heredity. The tendency to develop bunions might be because of an inherited structural foot defect.


Although they don't always cause problems, bunions are permanent unless surgically corrected. Possible complications include:

Bursitis. This painful condition occurs when the small fluid-filled pads (bursae) that cushion bones, tendons and muscles near your joints become inflamed.

Hammertoe. An abnormal bend that occurs in the middle joint of a toe, usually the toe next to your big toe, can cause pain and pressure.

Metatarsalgia. This condition causes pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot.


To help prevent bunions:

Choose shoes carefully. They should have a wide toe box — no pointy toes — and there should be space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.Your shoes should conform to the shape of your feet without squeezing or pressing any part of your foot.

Can a bunion recover itself

No. A bunion will not just go away on its own. In fact, a bunion will only get progressively worse as time goes on if not treated. If you have a bunion, you should see a podiatrist for an evaluation. Your podiatrist will determine the best treatment options for your particular case. The treatment will depend on the severity of the bunion. The treatments available range from conservative options, like padding, orthotic devices, splints, and/or exercises, to more invasive treatment options, like bunion surgery. The conservative treatment options can help to relieve pain and stop bunion progress, but they will not make the deformity or “bump” go away. The only way to get rid of that bony bump is with a surgical procedure.

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