A bunion is a thickened lump at the base of the big toe. It is the result of the movement of the base of the big toe away from the smaller toes. At the same time, the top of the big toe moves toward the smaller toes. This instability creates metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint inflammation and bursitis at the base of the big toe.
The exact cause of bunions is unknown, but it is likely a combination of genetics and environmental factors.
Risk Factors TOP
Bunions are more common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of getting a bunion include:
Bunions may cause:
You should seek medical attention if you have diabetes and you are having problems with your feet.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A foot exam will be done. An x-ray of your foot will be used to diagnose the bunion. It will also show the severity and amount of damage.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
It is important to relieve pressure on the bunion to stop progression of the deformity. This may include:
Prescription or over-the-counter medications and/or cortisone injections may be advised to reduce pain.
A physical therapist will assess the bunion. Ultrasound may be done to help relieve inflammation and pain.
To help reduce your chance of getting a bunion, take these steps:
American Podiatric Medical Association
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Ontario Podiatric Medical Association
Bunions. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery website. Available at:
Bunion surgery. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery website. Available at:
Ferrari J, Higgins JP, et al. Interventions for treating hallux valgus (abductovalgus) and bunions. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2004;CD000964.
Foot care. National Institute on Aging website. Available at:
Hallux valgus and bunion. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115604/Hallux-valgus-and-bunion. Updated May 14, 2015. Accessed February 11, 2016.
Maffulli N, Longo UG, Marinozzi A, Denaro V. Hallux valgus: effectiveness and safety of minimally invasive surgery. A systematic review. Br Med Bull. 2011;97:149-167.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM