This Little Piggy Has A Bunion

Ira M. Fox, M.D.

Bunions are those big ugly bumps on the inside of your foot. Sometimes bunions are accompanied by big toes that turn outward toward the small toe.

Most people believe bunions are the result of ill-fitting shoes, but in fact they are hereditary. If you have bunions, look at the feet of your mother, father or grandparents; it is highly likely one of them also has bunions.

The discomfort of bunions can be worsened by shoes, but shoes cannot cause bunions. Treatment consists of accommodation – a change in footwear to fit the bunion – or surgical correction. Accommodation includes wearing more sensible shoes with a more rectangular toe box, or front of the shoe. For those unconcerned with style, orthopedic shoes are available with a toe box specially made for bunions. Padding of the bump also works. 

Night splints that are alleged to fix bunions are available all over the Internet, but they do not work because once a bunion begins, it is not reversible without surgery. As opposed to braces for crooked teeth, “braces” for bunions are ineffective.

Surgical correction varies depending upon the severity of the bunion and the space between the first two metatarsals, or the bones behind the toes. With some procedures the patient can walk right away. With others the patient must wear a cast and avoid weight bearing for a period of time. Do not assume that what worked for your neighbor will work for you because no two bunions are the same.

Surgery should always be the last resort for those that have failed to respond to conservative treatment.

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