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Health Library


What Are Bunions?

A bunion (Hallux Valgus) is an enlargement of the base of your first toe. People with flat feet are more predisposed to developing bunions because of the alignment of their feet while walking. Improper footwear may contribute to the development of bunions. Due to the forces going through the foot as you push off the ground, the first toe angles towards the other toes. Because of this, the base of the toe can become red, inflamed, and painful. As the bunion becomes larger, the angle toward the other toes becomes greater and the first toe may cross over the second. The deviation may become fixed as a bunion progresses.


To receive a diagnosis, a qualified healthcare professional in musculoskeletal disorders and podiatric medicine will examine your posture and alignment while walking. Then the alignment of your feet will be examined while standing and lying down to assess the mobility of your joints. A healthcare provider will attempt to reproduce pain to confirm a diagnosis. X-rays may be useful in determining the severity of the bunion to help guide treatment options.

Treatment Options

Conservative (non-surgical) treatment includes getting new shoes with a wide toe box to allow more room for the toes. Orthotics may be necessary to help maintain foot alignment while walking. Use of anti-inflammatories may be used to help with pain. If non-surgical treatment fails, surgery may be necessary to correct the deviation.

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