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A bunion is a painful, bony bump that develops on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint. Bunions may also be referred to as hallux valgus. Bunions begin to form when the big toe joint is forced out of alignment.

Causes and risk factors

  • Wearing narrow shoes, forcing toes into an unnatural position
  • Heredity
  • Inflammatory condition such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Neuromuscular condition such as polio


  • Visible bump on the inside of the foot
  • Callus or corn on the bump
  • Pain and tenderness in the joint area
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Stiffness and restricted motion in the big toe
  • Difficulty walking

Diagnosis and treatment

In most cases bunions are treated without surgery. Nonsurgical treatment of bunions cannot remove the bump but can reduce pain and keep symptoms from worsening. Changes in footwear and added padding to current shoes can help alleviate symptoms and take pressure off the bunion. Ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may also help. If pain continues over time despite changes in footwear, your orthopedic surgeon may discuss surgery to realign the bone, ligaments, tendons, and nerves and put the toe back in correct position.