A bunion is an excess or misaligned bone in the joint of the toe, appearing as a bony bump. Bunions can develop on the fifth toe, but most often occur at the base of the big toe. A bunion can change the shape of your foot, making it harder to find shoes that fit. Because bunions affect the big toe and the big toe is so critical to movement, bunions can make walking or even standing painful. If you're at risk of developing a bunion, wearing high-heeled or poorly-fitted shoes can make the problem worse.

There are two types of bunions: positional and structural. Positional bunions are caused by new bone growth that pushes the big toe toward the smaller ones by tightening the tendons. Structural bunions result when the joint at the base of the big toe causes the toe to slant toward the smaller ones. In severe cases, structural bunions cause the second and third toes to buckle.


To determine the best treatment for your problem, your doctor may ask if and when your bunion causes pain. Your doctor may also test how far and how smoothly the affected joint moves.

X-rays may be taken of your foot to show the position of the toe's joint to see if the bunion affects other bones in your foot.

If a bunion is not painful or severe, a different style of shoes may relieve bunion pain. Or, you may be prescribed custom-made shoe inserts (orthotics) to control incorrect foot mechanics. If the bunion is very painful, outpatient surgery may be recommended.