Can Bunions Be Corrected Without Surgery?


By Dr. Nancy Kaplan

What Are Bunions?

Bunions are a very common and often inherited deformity of the foot. They can vary from a slight bump at the base of the big toe with the toe relatively straight to a large bump with the big toe under or over the second toe, making shoe wear all but impossible.

What Do Bunions Look Like?

X-ray of bunion showing angles

On X-rays, the long bone known as the first metatarsal makes a sharp angle to the second metatarsal known as the inter-metatarsal angle. The big toe then makes a turn towards the second toe known as the hallux abductus angle. The larger these angles are, the more severe the bunion is.

What Causes Bunions?

Bunions can be found in all age groups but are more commonly found in adults. While it is true that wearing pointy-toed, high-heeled shoes can accelerate the process of bunion formation, the root of why bunions form is heredity; children can demonstrate the beginning signs of bunion formation as early as at birth, and children born with Down syndrome almost universally have bunion deformity. Bunions may also form due to trauma like automobile accidents or due to neuromuscular disease.

Why Do Bunions Hurt?

Bunions can cause pain due to a few reasons:

  • The bunion can compress a nerve causing burning or numbness in the big toe.
  • The bunion may irritate the big toe

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