What is a bunion?
A bunion is when your big toe points toward the second toe. This causes a bump on the outside edge of your toe.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Bunions occur more commonly in women and can sometimes run in families. People born with abnormal bones in their feet are more likely to form a bunion. Wearing narrow-toed, high-heeled shoes may lead to the development of a bunion. The condition may become painful as extra bone and a fluid-filled sac grow at the base of the big toe.
Red, calloused skin along the inside edge of the big toe
A bony bump at this site
Pain over the joint, aggravated by pressure from shoes
Big toe turned toward the other toes
Signs and tests
A doctor can usually diagnose a bunion by looking at it. A foot x-ray can show an abnormal angle between the big toe and the foot and, in some cases, arthritis.
When a bunion first begins to develop, take good care of your feet and wear wide-toed shoes. This can often solve the problem and prevent the need for any further treatment. It may help to wear felt or foam pads on the foot to protect the bunion, or devices called spacers to separate the first and second toes at night. These are available at drugstores. You can also try cutting a hole in a pair of old, comfortable shoes to wear around the house.
If the bunion gets worse — resulting in severe deformity or pain — surgery to realign the toe and remove the bony bump (bunionectomy) can be effective.