bunion (hallux valgus) is an enlargement of bone or
tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint ). A bunion causes a bump on your big toe joint. The big toe may
turn toward the second toe (displacement ), and the tissues surrounding the joint
may be swollen and tender.
If you have a bunion but do not have
pain or discomfort, treatment may not be necessary. The goals of treatment for
bunions are both to relieve toe pain so that it does not limit daily activities
and to prevent the bunion from getting worse.
Most bunions can be
treated at home. In some cases, surgery is considered.
usually is used to decrease pressure on the big toe and relieve pain. Treatment
roomy shoes that have wide and deep toe boxes (the
area that surrounds the toes), low or flat heels, and good arch supports. Avoid
tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes that put pressure on the big toe joint. For
more information, see:
- Foot problems: Finding the right shoes.
- Using bunion pads, arch supports, or
custom-made supports (orthotics) placed just behind the big toe joint on the
bottom of your foot. They can help redistribute your weight while you are
walking and take pressure off your big toe. Ask your doctor to
help you choose the right kind of pads.
moleskin or felt patches over or around pressure
areas, to protect the bunion from being rubbed by your shoes.
- Taking nonprescription
medicine to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Examples include acetaminophen
(such as Tylenol) and
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as
ibuprofen or aspirin. Talk to your
doctor about which pain reliever is best for you.
- Using ice to
relieve pain and reduce swelling. Apply ice to the joint for 10 to 20 minutes
at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. Elevate your foot so that your toe
is higher than your heart.
Physical therapy, splints, or braces have not been
proved to successfully treat bunions. But these treatments may be helpful for
If nonsurgical treatment has
not relieved toe pain and you aren't able to do normal daily activities, or if
you have a severe bunion, you may want to consider surgical treatment.
Bunion surgery is done to help restore normal
alignment to the toe joint and relieve pain. For information on making the
decision about surgery, see:
- Bunions: Should I have surgery?
different types of bunion surgery-the best type of
surgery for you depends on how severe your bunion is and how experienced your
surgeon is. Look for a surgeon who does many different types of bunion surgery
on a regular basis. Each bunion is different, and surgery needs to be tailored
to each case.