A bunion is a protrusion of bone or tissue around a joint. Bunions may occur at the base of the great toe or at the base of the little toe, and often occur when the joint is stressed over a period of time. Women are more frequently affected because they may wear tight, pointed, and confining shoes. Bunions can also be a result of arthritis, which often affects the big toe joint.
You may get bunions if:
- The way that your foot is shaped puts too much pressure on your big toe joint. Because bunions can run in families, some experts believe that the inherited shape of the foot makes some people more likely to get them.
- Your foot rolls inward too much when you walk. A moderate amount of inward roll, or pronation, is normal. Damage and injury can happen with too much pronation.
- You have flat feet.
- You often wear shoes that are too tight.
All of these may put pressure on the big toe joint. Over time, the constant pressure forces the big toe out of alignment, bending it toward the other toes.
Bunion surgery generally involves making an incision in the top or on the side of the big toe joint area and removing or realigning soft tissue and bone. The goals of bunion surgery include:
- Relieve pain and restore normal alignment to the toe joint.
- Restore, as much as possible, normal weight-bearing distribution to the foot.
- Allow you to return to normal activities.
You may have to consider surgery if your bunion results in persistent, severe pain that limits your daily activities, or if you have a severe foot deformity.