A bunion (hallux valgus) is an enlargement of the bone or tissue around a joint at the base of the big toe or at the base of the little toe (in which case it is called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion”). Bunions often occur when the joint is stressed over a prolonged period. They are 8 times more common in women than in men, primarily because women may be more likely to wear tight, pointed, and confining shoes. Bunions may be inherited as a family trait. Bunions may also result from arthritis, which often affects the big toe joint.
Initial treatment of bunions may include wearing comfortable, well-fitting footwear (particularly shoes that conform to the shape of the foot and do not cause pressure areas) or the use of splints and orthotics (special shoe inserts to support your foot) to reposition the big toe. For bunions caused by arthritis, medications may help reduce pain and swelling.
If non-surgical treatment fails, your physician may suggest surgery. The goal of surgery is to relieve pain and correct as much deformity as possible. The surgery is not cosmetic and is not meant to improve the appearance of the foot.
Other related procedures that may be used to help diagnose foot disorders include x-rays of the bone and foot.