Understanding Bunions

A bunion is a bony protrusion that forms on the outside of your big toe and a condition that we treat frequently at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle. Although the bump on the side of the toe is the most well-known bunion symptom, other signs of this condition include:

  • Swelling and/or redness around your big toe joint

  • Pain, either intermittent or consistent—usually worse when wearing shoes with tight toe boxes

  • Limited movement of the affected toe

  • Corns or calluses forming where the first toe overlaps the second toe or on the top of the toe

What’s the Cause?

There are several reasons why a bunion forms. For many patients, this is an inherited tendency that has to do with a defective bone structure that encourages the joint of the big toe to become misaligned and move out of place. Your footwear can also play a large role in the development of a bunion. High heels that force your toes downward and forward and shoes with narrow toes boxes that squeeze your toes together put pressure on the big toe joint and can contribute to it moving out of place. Other causes of bunions include previous injuries, arthritis, and flat feet.

Treatment Options

The first step in relieving pain and slowing the progression of a bunion is to have it evaluated by our foot doctor, Lawrence J. Kales, DPM. Once the podiatrist examines your toe and foot and determines the current condition of the bunion a treatment plan can be developed. Conservative treatment measures include:

  • Shoe modifications—choosing footwear made out of soft, flexible materials with roomy toe boxes can relieve excess pressure on the bunion.

  • Orthotics—custom-designed inserts for your shoes can help realign your toe and shift pressure away from the affected joint.

  • Padding—using cushioning materials can help reduce pain and irritation to the bunion and also to any corns or calluses that are present.

If conservative measures fail to bring relief or the bunion has progressed too far, surgery—known as a bunionectomy—may be the only option. One thing is certain, the sooner you seek treatment for a bunion the better the outcome. If you suspect you may have a bunion forming, contact our Hudson (727-868-2128) or Spring Hill (352-683-5799) office in the nature coast area for an appointment as soon as possible.