A bunion is a painful bony bump that develops on the joint at the base of your big toe. It is caused by some of the bones at the front of the foot being pushed out of place, resulting in the tip of your big toe starting to point inwards towards the other toes and forcing the joint out of place. You can also develop a bunion on the joint of the little toe although these are smaller and less common.

Causes of Bunions

Although the precise cause of bunions is unknown they are believed to have a genetic component (you were born with a particular foot type or deformity). They may also develop as a result of injuries to your foot. Wearing narrow, tight or high-heeled shoes may contribute to the development of bunions or exacerbate an existing condition. Certain types of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, may also be a factor.

Symptoms of Bunions

The most obvious symptom is a visible bulge on the joint at the base of the big toe, which may be sore or achy. The skin above the bunion may appear red, swollen or hot to the touch and you may find it hard to move your big toe. Where the toes rub together you may develop corns or calluses and it can be hard to find shoes that feel comfortable or that fit properly.

Diagnosis of Bunions

Your doctor will carry out a physical examination of the affected area and may ask for an X-ray to determine the most effective course of treatment.

Treatment of Bunions

There are several things you can do to relieve the pain of a bunion. Wearing shoes that are comfortable and allow plenty of space for your toes is important to avoid exacerbating the condition. You can buy special bunion pads that help to cushion the sore joint and prevent rubbing. Padded shoe inserts may also help. If the bunion is painful, using an ice pack can help to reduce inflammation (although do not apply ice directly onto the skin) and you can also take painkillers or anti-inflammatories.

It is rare for bunions to require surgery, however if they are particularly painful or start to interfere with your everyday life it may become necessary. Your orthopaedic surgeon will advise on the best approach, which may involve realigning one or more bones to correct the abnormal angle in your big toe joint, removing part of the bone to straighten your big toe or fusing the bones in your affected joint.

Surgery is an effective way to treat bunions however, it may take several months to recover fully and you will need to avoid wearing tight or narrow shoes to prevent a recurrence in the future.


We are an experienced and highly qualified team of orthopaedic surgeons using the latest surgical and non-surgical techniques to eliminate or reduce pain so our patients can experience the best possible quality of life.


Whether you have an existing diagnosis or you are keen to discover what is causing your symptoms, contact us to arrange a consultation. We can organise any tests you require and discuss your treatment options.

What Our Patients Say

Senior lady exercising on a beach