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What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony lump at the base of your big toe. As it grows, it sticks out from the side of your foot and may move your toe out of place.

What causes a bunion?

Shoes that are too tight or too small are the most common cause of bunions. Arthritis can also cause bunions. Repeated stress on the toes or the front of the foot from sports or other activities can also cause bunions.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bunion?

  • You may have foot pain and stiffness.
  • Your big toe is turned inward and may overlap other toes.
  • You may have a callus (thickened skin) at the base of the big toe. The callus may have fluid under it.

How is a bunion diagnosed?

Your caregiver can identify your bunion by looking at your foot. He may ask you to move your toe to see how well you can move it. You may need an x-ray to measure the bunion and see how your other toes are affected.

How is a bunion treated?

  • NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain. This medicine can be bought with or without a doctor's order. This medicine can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your caregiver if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions on it before using this medicine.
  • A bunionectomy is surgery to remove the bunion. You may need surgery if other treatments do not work.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply ice on your toe for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Separate your big toe at night. Separate the big toe from the others with a foam pad while you sleep. Use a light elastic bandage to keep the pad in place.
  • Use a bunion pad. Wear a thick, ring-shaped pad around and over the bunion to cushion it.
  • Wear shoes that fit well. Wear wide shoes that have plenty of room for your toes. Do not wear shoes with heels that are higher than 2 inches.

  • Wear shoe inserts or arch supports. These will decrease pressure on the bunion.
  • Stretch your foot each day. This will help decrease pressure and increase foot strength. Ask what foot exercises are best for you.

When should I contact my caregiver?

  • You cannot do your daily activities because of the pain.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain in your toe.
  • You cannot put weight on your foot.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.