Bunion – the Bony Bump at the Base of Big Toe

A bony bump protruding out at the base of the big toe is called a bunion. This is a very painful condition. Sometimes, day to day activities are also affected by its formation.

It is formed when the base of the big toe pushes against the next toe. There is unequal distribution of body weight among the fingers of the foot. The bases of the rest fingers of the fingers push against the base of the big toe.

Causes of Bunion Formation

  • Wearing tight shoes
  • Development anomaly
  • Unequal distribution of weight among the joints, in situation like wearing heels in females
  • Secondary to arthritis in the foot joints

Symptoms of a Bunion

  • A protrusion from the base of the big toe joint
  • Pain in the joint, especially while walking or bearing weight
  • Corn or callous formation in the area
  • Thickening of skin at the base of the toe
  • Redness in the affected area


The doctor examines the joint area carefully. The protruded bump is examined.

Diagnosis is confirmed on X-ray.

Treating a Bunion

Shoes with special padding are used. Padding is adjusted so as to as to put less pressure at the base of the big toe and relieve pain in the bunion.

Special splints may be used to straighten the bunion gradually.

Anti-inflammatory medications may be used to reduce redness, pain and swelling at the base of the toe.  Commonly, ibuprofen, naproxen etc. are used. These are non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs.

Corticosteroids may be injected at the site to reduce inflammation.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment may be opted in cases where the bunion starts disturbing day to day activities. There are different surgical modalities.

They include:

  • Surgical excision of the protruding part of the bunion
  • Straightening the big toe by trimming the tendons around it.
  • Permanent fusion of the joints of the feet after  aligning them properly.

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