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What Are Bunions?

A bunion is a bony bump on the inside edge of your toe. This occurs when your big toe points inward toward your second toe.

Causes of bunions can vary. Genetics may play a role, and the condition is more common in women than men. Other causes may include:

  • Bone abnormalities in your feet, sometimes present from birth
  • Shoes that don’t fit properly
  • Shoes with high heels or narrow tips that push your toes together


Symptoms of bunions usually begin with discomfort that progresses as bunions develop. Pain gets worse as extra bone grows or a fluid-filled sac develops at the base of your big toe.

Redness or inflammation (swelling) can indicate infection. It’s important to treat this early, especially if you have certain health conditions such as diabetes or a weakened immune system.

Other symptoms include:

  • Red, thickened skin along the inner edge and base of your big toe
  • A bony bump at your first toe joint
  • Decreased movement of your first toe
  • Joint pain that gets worse with pressure from your shoes
  • A big toe turned inward toward or crossed over another toe
  • Corns and calluses between your first and second toes
  • Discomfort wearing regular shoes
  • Difficulty finding shoes that fit comfortably

Treatment Options

If you notice signs of a bunion, there are simple things you can do to give your feet a rest and avoid further problems. 

Tips to manage bunion pain include:

  • Wearing comfortable, wide-toed footwear
  • Using felt or foam pads – available in drugstores – to protect your toes and prevent friction when you’re walking
  • Using spacers that separate your first and second toes
  • Wearing special inserts or supportive orthopedic shoes
  • Wearing slippers or sandals around the house
  • Cutting a hole in the toe of an old shoe

To evaluate a bunion, your doctor will look at your feet and may use a foot X-ray. This imaging will reveal abnormal bone alignment or other conditions such as evidence of arthritis.

Treatment may include:

  • Medication for pain or infection
  • Bunionectomy surgery to remove the bunion and realign your toe

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of bunions, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat bunions.