A bunion is a protuberance of bone or tissue around a joint, usually at the base of the big toe but can also occur at the base of the little toe (“bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion”). It is often associated with the big toe deviating at an angle (“Hallux Valgus”) and a widening of the angle between the 1st and 2nd metatarsals (long bones which connect to the toes).

Bunions are often painful to various degrees and the skin and deeper tissues around a bunion can also be swollen, red or inflamed and painful. Because of the big toe pushing in toward the lesser toes, the other toes can be indirectly affected by a bunion: the smaller toes may overlap, develop corns and become bent and toenails may begin to grow into the sides of the nail bed.


When walking, many people have their feet rolling in (also called “excessive pronation”). When the foot pronates, excessive weight is put on the big toe and its joint when the foot pushes off. Over time the joint becomes bigger to cope with the added weight.

Some bunions are caused by arthritis or trauma (fractures or breaks into the joint). Footwear is not the common cause as generally promoted but is only a contributing factor: when wearing high heels, the person’s weight is not distributed over the whole foot but nearly only over the ball of the foot and especially on the big toe.

Women tend to develop bunions more than men because proportionally their feet have to carry more weight than men. Similarly, overweight people will more easily develop bunions.

Bunions can run in a family but are not hereditary as it is the biomechanical structure that is hereditary and passed through the family.


Bunions cannot be reversed, except through surgery. They can only be relieved by custom orthotics (also called “arch supports”) which neutralize abnormal foot pronation and reduce the load on the forefoot area. Proper weight distribution and biomechanical activity are re-established which may prevent or reduce the gradual growth of a bunion.

Sometimes surgery (“bunionectomy”) may be indicated when a bunion is at a tertiary stage, however, custom orthotics must be worn after surgery to prevent any reoccurrence. For the custom orthotics to be effective, it is necessary to wear them between 75 and 80% of the time when weight bearing.

For any questions about flat feet, orthotics, or our treatment procedures, give us a call.

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Related Links

Do I need orthotics?
What are orthotics?
Different treatments for bunion (Podiatry Channel US)
How do bunions progress? (Podiatry Channel US)
The surgical procedure of a bunionectomy (Podiatry Associates US)

All information provided on this web site is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for medical diagnosis, prognosis or treatment for any specific conditon or individual. Always seek the advice of your physician or other healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The information found here is no substitute for the advice of a qualified physician.



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