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Bunions are bony bumps located on the inner edge of the foot, and cause an array of problems for those who have them. There is also a related condition known as bunionettes that has a similar set of symptoms and can lead to issues. At our Bloomington, IN podiatrist office, we provide treatment (including bunion surgery) for many patients who suffer from these fairly common toe deformities.

An Introduction to Bunions

Essentially, a bunion is a bony protrusion found at the big toe’s metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which is the point where the toe connects to the foot. The bump extends out to the side, along the inner edge of the foot, in response to instability in the MTP joint and a subsequent misalignment of the bones that form it (the phalangeal and metatarsal bones). In this condition, the phalangeal bone in the big toe begins to angle inwards—towards the other four toes—which then pushes the MTP joint out of position.

The most recognizable symptom of the condition is an abnormal bump on the inside of the foot. In many cases, bunions are swollen, red, and sore. Due to friction and pressure on the bunion from footwear, there is usually an increased risk of calluses and corns. This is also a problem when the big toe overlaps the second toe. Other common bunion symptoms include pain that is either persistent or intermittent, and restricted movement of the big toe.

Causes of Bunions

Whereas women’s shoes are often blamed, the root cause for bunions is actually pressure from shifting and weight-bearing on joints and tendons in the feet. This is especially the case when force loads are unevenly distributed, which then leads to an unstable MTP joint. Commonly-attributed causes of force load imbalance include traumatic injuries, congenital foot deformities (those present at birth), and inherited foot structure.

It was thought for a long time that women’s shoes were the source of the problem. This would seem logical when considering the tight, narrow fronts and the excessive pressure on the front of the foot from high heels. However, it is most often an existing foot structure. That being said, such footwear can irritate a bunion and cause it to worsen.

Arthritis can also play a role in causing a bunion to form. If you have an arthritic condition, you may make alterations to your gait pattern—the biomechanical processes you use when walking—to avoid pain from stiff joints. Doing so can potentially lead to excessive pressure in forefoot, thereby increasing bunion risk.

Treatment and Bunion Surgery

There is an array of treatment options for bunions, with the ones proving to be most effective varying based on severity of the bunion and symptoms experienced. Generally, we will usually begin with conservative, nonsurgical options to relieve bunion pain and symptoms. Conservative care can include medication, icing, shoe modifications, and custom orthotics.

Our hope is that conservative care will effectively address the problem, but the only way to completely correct a bunion is with surgery (see the “before and after” pictures below). This condition is progressive in nature, which means it cannot be reversed and will continue to worsen when left untreated. If you are facing severe pain and restricted movement, a bunionectomy may be strongly recommended to provide you with optimal relief.

The goal of bunion surgery is to provide you with the comfort you need by restoring the toe and affected joint to their natural positions. This can be achieved through various surgical methods, including:

  • Fusing the respective bones making up the MTP joint.
  • Realigning the long bone in your foot (metatarsal) and the bone in your big toe (phalange) to correct the abnormal angle of the MTP joint.
  • Removing part of the big toe to straighten it.
  • Removing swollen tissue found around the big toe’s MTP joint.

When you are suffering from one of these common toe deformities, come see us at our Bloomington, IN podiatrist office and have Dr. Powers evaluate your condition. Dr. Powers will determine the best course of treatment and carefully explain your options. If bunion surgery is advised, you can take comfort knowing you are in the hands of an experienced, knowledgeable foot surgeon.

For additional information about bunions, bunion surgery, or any of the services we offer, simply give us a call at (812) 333-4422 or connect with us online today.

Before & After Bunion Surgery


Before and after bunion surgery


Before and After Bunion Surgery


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