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What Are Bunions?

A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is an angular boney protrusion that forms at the site of the large joint that connects your big toe to your foot. This joint, called the first metatarsophalangeal joint (or MTP joint for short)is a critical junction of bones, tendons, and ligaments that bear much of our weight when we’re on our feet: it carries up to 60% of our body weight when walking and up to 3X our body weight when jogging or running.
If an abnormality develops in the joint, the bones of the big toe and foot can deviate from proper alignment and create the characteristic angular protrusion that juts out from the base of the big toe.
Bunions are extremely prevalent: up to one in three people over the age of 18 have bunions and are more common in women.

What Are The Symptoms Of Bunions?

Bunions are a progressive disorder that develop slowly over time. The earliest symptom is the gradual inward deviation of the big toe toward the other toes. As the foot condition advances you may experience:
  • A prominent bony bump at the base of the big toe
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Pain when walking or when pressure is applied to the bunion
  • Diminished range of motion

How Do I Treat Bunions?

The goal of treatment for bunions is practicing proper foot care solutions to resolve foot pain and allowing normal activity. While bunions cannot be corrected without surgery, in most cases bunion symptoms can be effectively managed with non-operative therapies that reduce pressure on the 1st MTP joint and improve foot mechanics.
Bunion treatments include:
  • Footwear modification, i.e., avoiding tight shoes with a narrow or stiff toe box. Sometimes an orthopedic shoe may be recommended to accommodate wider width and depth
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen
  • Bunion splints: Splints are usually made of medical grade plastic with straps at the midfoot and big toe and are designed to straighten out the 1st MTP joint and hold it in place. Some may also incorporate a toe separator between the 1st and 2nd digits.
  • Bunion aligner: A thin sleeve for the foot that works to pull the big toe towards the mid-line of the body and bring it back to its natural position without taking up much room in the shoe.
  • Therapeutic taping: Taping the 1st MTP joint using athletic tape to keep it in place and discourage misalignment can help to manage pain and inflammation temporarily.
  • Padded shoe inserts
  • Shoe stretching: Shoes can be stretched in the areas where additional room is required without compromising the overall size of the shoe
  • Supportive insoles or custom orthotics

Bunion-friendly footwear, accommodated insoles, bunion splints, therapeutic tape, and shoe stretching are available in our foot clinic.

To schedule best foot care appointment with our licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists), use the booking form below or call 416-769-FEET(3338).

Our Toronto foot clinic is open Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic.

Risk Factors

What Causes Bunions?

Risk factors that may increase your chances of developing bunions:
  • Wearing overly tight, narrow, or pointy shoes
  • Wearing high heels
  • A family history of bunions
  • Ballet dancing
  • Occupations that require long hours on foot, such as teaching and nursing
  • Poor foot mechanics, such as overpronation
Bunions are more common in individuals who are:
  • Over the age of 65
  • Overweight
  • Female (bunions are 10X more common in women than men)
  • Have flat feet
  • Have arthritic conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)

How Do I Prevent Bunions?

Bunions are most likely to develop when susceptible feet are repeatedly squeezed into ill-fitting footwear. To prevent the development or progression of bunions, the most important thing you can do is choose footwear that fits correctly:
  • Avoid high heels
  • Avoid narrow and pointy-toed shoes
  • Flat and roomy shoes with a wide toe box are highly recommended
  • Utilize protective and supportive devices such as insoles or custom orthotics, which help reposition and realign the foot to prevent excessive pressure on the big toe joint and correct biomechanical abnormality
Most shoes on store shelves do not accommodate bunions and consequently exert excessive pressure on the protruding misaligned joint. If you need assistance choosing bunion-friendly footwear, Chiropodistour staff can assist you in selecting supportive and properly fitted orthopedic shoes, accommodative sandals, shoes, boots and specially modified footwear that conform to the unique physiology and biomechanical needs of your feet.
Articles about Bunions by Feet First Clinic

Book an appointment for bunions

You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic. Schedule an appointment by using the Appointment Request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).