OrthoNeuro Blog

5 Jul

Q&A on Bunions

by David Zehnder

BunionsWhat are they?

A bunion is a condition affecting the base of the big toe.  In this condition, the foot moves in while the big toe moves out towards the second toe (see above picture).  This is why the “bump” forms at what is called the first metatarsophalangeal joint.  There are differing opinions on why exactly they form, but it seems to be due to stresses placed on the joint over time.

Who gets them?

Women are much more likely than men to get bunions, but men usually develop bunions at an earlier age.  When this occurs in men it is commonly linked to hereditary causes (the mother having a history of bunions).  Other risk factors include flat feet and tight calf muscles, which cause instability of the foot.  Another main contributing factor for developing bunions are ill-fitting shoes where the foot is compressed (i.e. narrow high heels).

When should I get them fixed?

A bunion should never be fixed for cosmetic reasons.  However, when a bunion starts to cause pain or gets inflamed from rubbing against the shoe, it needs to be evaluated by a physician for treatment.  It is important to seek out treatment so arthritis in the joint does not develop.  Also, treatment can prevent any further foot deformity or dysfunction.  For example, the misalignment of the bunion can affect the second toe leading to what is known as hammer toe.

Where can I go to get them fixed?

An orthopedist trained in foot and ankle surgery or a podiatrist in your area will be able to best diagnose and treat this condition for you.

How do they get fixed?

Depending on the condition of the bunion there are a few forms of correction.  One option is the Lapidus procedure, where the tarsal-metatarsal joint is fused together usually with two screws.  Other surgeries include a bunionectomy or a metatarsophalangeal joint fusion.  It is possible that a surgeon may need to perform a combination of the surgeries listed above for the best results.  Surgery may not be indicated or necessary in all patients though.

Remember, you can take preventative measures by making sure to have your shoes properly fitted to help reduce the risk of bunions.


Need to see a specialist about your bunions?  OrthoNeuro has 2 orthopedic foot & ankle surgeons and a podiatrist who specialize in the treatment of bunions.

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