Symptoms, Treatment, Risk Factors, and Complications of Bunions

A bunion is a bony bump that forms outside your big toe. It develops on the etatarsophalangeal, where the big toe meets the foot. Bunions grow gradually for a period when pressure exacts on the joint, eventually grows bigger and stick out. In some cases, bunions may not require medication. Visit your New York podiatric surgeon if you experience foot pain, visible bump, or difficulties fitting into your shoes. Wearing tight or narrow shoes can make your bunion worse.


Bulging bump on the outer part of your big toe, corns, swelling, redness and soreness around your big toe joint, frequent pain, and difficulties moving your big toe are the common symptoms of bunions.


Bunion pads and taping: You can use over-the-counter bunion pads to cushion and ease pain in the affected area. A medical tape helps to keep your foot in the correct position.

Footwear caution: Wearing shoes with broad and deep toe boxes relieves pressure off your toes. You can stretch the shoes you own with specific devices.

Orthotic devices: Custom-made shoe inserts help manage alignment problems that contribute to bunion formation. Placing a spacer between the big toe and the second digit will also help align. You may use a splint during the night to relieve pain.

Pain relievers: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, either topical or oral, can help relieve pain and swelling. Ice packs also reduce swelling and pain.

Physical therapy: Massage and ultrasound treatments reduce pain and inflammation through breaking soft-tissue adhesions. Your doctor can recommend exercises to improve muscle strength around your bunion and improve alignment.

Injections: Steroid injections reduce pain and swelling, but too much use can cause damage. Your doctor uses this treatment technique to avoid the surgery option.

Surgery: Your doctor will recommend surgery if other treatments have not worked and walking is extremely painful. Your surgeon will do a bunionectomy to remove your bunion and realign the affected bones to return the big toe to the correct position.

Risk factors

High heels: Wearing high heels forces the toes into the front part of the shoes leading to crowding and forming a bunion.

Ill-fitting shoes: You can develop a bunion when you wear too tight or ill-fitting shoes.

Inflammatory diseases: Some inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can lead to the development of bunions.

Hereditary factor: Bunions may develop due to inherited foot structure or anatomy problems, such as flat feet.


Bursitis: Bursitis is a painful condition that results from inflammation of the small fluid-filled pads that cushion bones near the joints. A bunion can make bursitis more painful, damaging the cartilage and leading to arthritis.

Hammertoe: This is an abnormal bend that develops in the toe’s middle joint next to the big one, causing pain and pressure. A bunion can cause a hammertoe, and in severe cases, you might need surgery.

Metatarsalgia: It is a condition that occurs in the ball of your foot, causing pain and swelling.  

Ensure the shoes you wear conform to your feet’ shape without exacting pressure on any part of your foot to prevent bunions. Schedule an appointment at Flex Foot and Ankle in Midtown Manhattan for bunion treatment to stop its progression and discomfort.