A bunion is a bump on the joint at bottom of the big toe, which results from a misalignment of the first and second metatarsals of the foot. Bunions can often be painful and can cause restricted movement of the big toe.
According to the Mayo Clinic, bunions can develop as a result of a genetic predisposition, stress on the foot or an inflammatory condition, such as arthritis.
Family medicine physician Dr. Rachael Ross says it’s important to wear comfortable shoes when you start to develop a bunion, as tight or too-narrow shoes can squeeze the toes and exacerbate the bunion.
Podiatrist and foot surgeon Dr. Ali Sadrieh explains that there are two approaches you can take to treating a bunion: nonsurgical pain management or surgical removal of the bunion.
To alleviate the pain of bunions without surgery, wear comfortable shoes with plenty of room for your toes. You can also use padded shoe inserts to distribute the pressure more evenly. Over-the-counter pain medications and applying ice to the area can also help relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
A bunionectomy — the surgical removal of a bunion — involves making an incision on the side of the foot, removing the bump, and cutting and moving the bone of the first metatarsal over to realign the joint. The recovery period can take weeks to months and includes two weeks in a surgical shoe followed by two weeks in a tennis shoe.
ER physician Dr. Travis Stork emphasizes the importance of buying shoes in the right size, particularly the correct width for your toe box.