Questions and Answers about Bunions

A bunion is just one of many toe deformities that we treat here at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland. Here are some of the most common questions our patients have and some helpful answers from our expert podiatrists Dr. Craig B. Frey and Dr. Megan L. Oltmann.

Q: What causes bunions?

A: Many people believe that high heels or tight shoes cause bunions. It’s more likely that your feet are just prone to getting them. They run in families. Wearing poorly fitting shoes just accelerates the formation of a bunion. Some other causes of bunions include arthritis and injury to the joint at the base of the big toe.

Q: How do you know you have a bunion?

A: You probably have a bunion if you can see that your big toe is veering inward toward your other toes. At the same time, you’ll notice that the bone at the base of the big toe is jutting outward.

Q: Do bunions only affect the big toe?
Not always – they can appear at the base of the pinky toe as well. Because it’s smaller, it’s called a bunionette or sometimes a tailor’s bunion.

Q: Do bunions hurt?
At the beginning, they probably won’t. However, over time, yes, they often do. The displaced joint can become stiff and sore. Bone spurs can develop in the joint. Walking around, or simply putting on a pair of shoes, may become extremely painful.

Q: What happens if you leave it alone?

A: The bone deformity won’t fix itself. You can slow down the progression of a bunion by wearing shoes with low heels and a wide toe box. Eventually, it will hurt. You can develop corns or calluses where the big toe overlaps the second toe. The four small toes can be forced out of position.

Q: What should you do about a bunion?

A: Wear comfortable shoes with lots of toe room. Relieve pain by resting, applying ice, and taking anti-inflammatory medications. Night splints and orthotics can reduce pressure on the joint. If all else fails, bunion surgery may be an option.

Residents of Cuyahoga, Portage, Geauga, and Summit counties are fortunate to have two experienced foot surgeons to choose from here at our office in Solon, Ohio. To find out how to treat a bunion or to see if surgery is right for you, call us at (440) 903-1041 or request an appointment online.