Health Care

Find Relief From Painful Bunions

Doctor showing a man an x-ray of his foot.

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

It’s amazing how important your foot health is to your overall health, and how something seemingly small can cause big pain and potential complications.

A bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe is referred to as a bunion. We’re here with all the information you need about bunions, including what to do about them, with expert advice from podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon, Kale Meeks, DPM, so you can reduce your foot pain and increase your quality of life.

What is a Bunion?

A bunion occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place. This causes the tip of your big toe to get pulled toward the smaller toes and forces the joint at the base of your big toe to stick out. The skin over the bunion may be sore and red.

Bunionettes, or smaller bunions, can develop on the joint at the base of your little toe.

Bunion Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a bunion can include:

  • A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
  • Corns or calluses
  • Limited movement of your big toe
  • Ongoing pain
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint

What Causes a Bunion?

According to Dr. Meeks, “A bunion can develop when your feet are repeatedly squeezed into narrow, pointed-toe footwear. The big toe pushes against the other toes so the base of the big toe — the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint — juts out from the foot.”

He continues, “While wearing the wrong shoes can trigger a bunion, they're not the underlying cause. Since foot shape and structure is hereditary, they can run in families. Low arches, flat feet and loose joints and tendons all increase bunion risk.”

Bunions are common in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that damages the cartilage within the joint. In turn, having a bunion can actually cause or worsen osteoarthritis. People in professions that require extensive standing or walking, such as teachers and nurses, are more susceptible to developing bunions. Foot stress, injuries and deformities present at birth can also play a role in whether someone will develop a bunion.

Complications From Bunions

“Don’t be deceived thinking bunions are a small matter,” says Dr. Meeks. “If your feet or toes are constantly in pain, your whole body can be thrown out of balance.”

Potential complications from bunions include:

  • Bursitis: Painful condition occurs when the small fluid-filled pads that cushion the bones near your joints become inflamed
  • Hammertoe: An abnormal bend that occurs in the middle joint of a toe, usually the toe next to your big toe, can cause pain and pressure
  • Metatarsalgia: A condition causes pain and swelling in the ball of your foot

Other complications include increased difficulty walking or standing and severe or worsening discomfort and pain.

How to Treat Bunions

While some bunions don’t need medical treatment, you’ll need to see a podiatrist (foot disorder specialist) or orthopedic foot specialist if you experience ongoing big toe or foot pain, a visible bump on your big toe joint, decreased movement of your big toe or foot or difficulty finding shoes that fit comfortably.

There are many bunion treatment options to stop bunions from getting worse and provide temporary relief. These remedies include splints, padding, anti-inflammatory medications corticosteroid injections, icing the joint, footwear with a wide toe box, activity modifications and orthotics.

However, foot surgery is the only way to completely eliminate a bunion. “A growing bunion will never get smaller,” says Dr. Meeks. Your doctor might recommend surgery if you are constantly in pain, your daily activities are becoming limited, shoes are too painful to wear and if non-surgical treatments haven’t helped your bunion pain.

We’ll Help Get You Back on Your Feet

At AdventHealth, we’ll help you get back on your feet with proven treatments for foot and ankle orthopedic issues like bunions, fractures, ankle sprains, hammertoe, foot or ankle arthritis, Achilles tendonitis, Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis and more.

Dr. Meeks will work closely with you to create a plan that addresses your condition and eases your bunion pain. Schedule your consultation with Dr. Meeks today. You deserve to feel whole.

Recent Blogs

A mom chopping vegetables with her daughters in the kitchen.
Easy Ways to Get Your Kids to Eat Veggies
Applying sunscreen to child
Sunscreen: Most Frequently Missed Areas
Your Essential Guide to Cancer Screenings by Age
An older man speaks to his doctor
Radiation Therapy: Colorectal Cancer Treatment and Recovery
B.E. F.A.S.T.: 6 Stroke Symptoms to Know When Every Second Counts
View More Articles