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Welcome to our health education library. The information shared below is provided to you as an educational and informational source only and is not intended to replace a medical examination or consultation, or medical advice given to you by a physician or medical professional.

What Are Bunions?

The bone at the base of your big toe connects to a bone in the ball of your foot. The joint is where the two bones connect. Normally, the two bones lie almost in a straight line, with your big toe pointing straight ahead. But sometimes the big toe starts to turn in towards the smaller toes. This pushes the joint out to the side, causing a bony bump called a bunion. Bunions can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Cutaway view of foot
A bunion is a small bump on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. It forms when the big toe turns in toward the second toe. This pushes the joint at the base of the big toe out to the side.

Symptoms of Bunions

A bunion often causes pain and swelling around the joint at the base of the big toe. The skin may become red or warm. If the big toe pushes under the second toe, a painful corn may form on the top of the second toe. In some cases, bunions cause no symptoms other than making the foot harder to fit in a shoe.

What Can Be Done

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Wearing shoes that are roomy across the toes and that have low heels will help keep a bunion from getting worse or causing pain.

  • Ask your doctor about pads and inserts to help prevent corns and to cushion the bunion.

  • Talk to your doctor about bunion surgery and whether it is appropriate for you.


Your feet tend to get larger as you age. That means you may need to increase your shoe size from time to time to ensure that your shoes fit your feet comfortably.

Publication Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Publication Source: Foot

Online Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Online Source: Foot

Date Last Reviewed: 2001-01-01T00:00:00-07:00

Date Last Modified: 2001-01-01T00:00:00-07:00

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Torrance A. Walker, M.D.