About Bunions

Learn what causes bunions and how they can be fixed.

An illustration of the bony deformity that causes a bunion, called hallux valgus.

While a bunion is characterized by a hard bump on the side of your big toe, you may be surprised to learn that the bump is the result of a more complex deformity involving a loss of alignment, rather than a growth.

This condition, called hallux valgus, occurs when the first metatarsal in your big toe rotates out of alignment and causes your big toe to lean in and crowd your other toes. The head of the metatarsal juts outwards to form a bunion. Hallux valgus is a progressive condition that will not reverse without surgical correction.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

Early signs of a bunion forming include the following:

  • Mild pain at the base of your big toe
  • Shoes rubbing and chafing the inside of your foot
  • Corns and calluses where your first two toes meet
  • Redness and swelling at the joint of the base of the toe
  • Numbness around your big toe, especially after standing for long periods
A woman rubs her painful, red, and swollen bunion after removing her shoes.

Not All Bunions Are the Same

As the hallux valgus deformity progresses, your bunion will become more prominent. Minimally invasive surgery can be used to treat bunions of any severity. The Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy allows surgeons to customize the correction to treat your bunion, whether mild or extreme.

A foot with a mild bunion.
Mild
A foot with a moderate bunion.
Moderate
A foot with a severe bunion whose toes have begun to curl inward.
Severe
A foot with a very extreme bunion that has led to a condition called crossover toe.
Extreme
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Other Common Toe Conditions

Left untreated, bunions can lead to other foot problems, including bursitis, metatarsalgia, hammertoe, and crossover toe, as well as arthritis.

Information about the condition called bursitis.
Bursitis
Information about metatarsalgia
Metatarsalgia
Information about the hammertoe deformity.
Hammertoe
Information about a condition called crossover toe.
Crossover toe

Alternative Treatment Options

Nonsurgical

Many people with mild bunions live pain-free and never require treatment. If your bunion is only mildly irritated, you can manage symptoms by wearing comfortable, roomy shoes, or applying moleskin, silicone, or gel pads to prevent rubbing. Orthotic inserts, bunion splints, toe spacers, and bunion correction sleeves or socks can reduce minor bunion discomfort caused by calluses and corns.

However, these short-term remedies will not straighten your toe permanently or keep your bunion from getting bigger and becoming more painful.

A foot with a bone shaved during the procedure known as a bumpectomy. A bunionectomy, on the other hand, does not shave bone.

Bumpectomy

Also known as an exostectomy, a bumpectomy is rarely a successful long-term solution for bunions. This procedure shaves off or grinds away the bony bump, but it does not realign the bones in your foot that caused your bunion. Your bunion is likely to return and these “corrections” could complicate any revision procedures. Don’t confuse these “minimally invasive” procedures with the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy.

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Fusion

This surgery, usually called a Lapidus procedure, corrects the bunion deformity by fusing the joint at the base of the metatarsal. A small section of bone around this joint between the two bones is removed, and pins, screws, wires, and/or metal plates are used to permanently fuse the bones together. The joint will be rigid, meaning it can’t flex during the push-off phase of taking a step. Some foot surgeons consider surgical fusion to be a last resort for bunion correction. Once the joint is fused, there is no return to full mobility.

While a Lapidus fusion is one option for removing your bunion, it may not be the right one for you.  Ask your local foot and ankle surgeon which procedure is best for your foot.

Minimal Incisions, Maximum Benefits

The Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy allows your surgeon to customize correction to address the severity of your bunion. In addition to powerful correction that addresses your bunion symptoms, the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy provides additional benefits:

  • Small incisions1
  • Fast recovery2
  • Preserves motion3
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Surgeons using the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy procedure have been trained in minimally invasive surgery for bunion correction.

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