Traditionally blamed on ill-fitting shoes, bunions are actually a hereditary defect-short, or pointed shoes only aggravate the problem. Outwardly, a bunion looks like an over-sized joint in the big toe. In reality, it is a toe that is no longer aligned correctly. The head of the longest toe bone (metatarsal) has gotten too large. The enlarged bone shifts outward to make room for itself. Tension on the ligaments forces the smaller bone (phalanx) to shift in the opposite direction-toward the second toe.

This bunion causes the toe to loose proper alignment with the rest of the foot. Pressure from the big toe can then lead to deformity in the second toe. The second toe may actually lay on top or beneath the big toe. Bunions can be quite painful if the bursa, or natural cushion, at the base of the big toe becomes inflamed. This is called bursitis. Pain may also be felt in the pad of the foot. This pain is caused by the second toe having to bear additional weight normally supported by a healthy big toe. Many patients seek bunion treatment for cosmetic reasons alone. In cases where pain is the issue, properly fitted footwear should be addressed first. Shoes should be roomy-long enough and wide enough so that there is no pressure around the ball of the foot. This should reduce the chance of bursitis.


  • Enlarged Joint in Big Toe
  • Big Toe Misaligned
  • Pain in Ball or Pad of Foot
  • Second Toe Lies On Top or Underneath Big Toe

When pain persists, medical treatment is necessary. There are a number of new procedures available that can provide welcome relief to patients who require bunion surgery. Often these can be performed on an outpatient basis without an overnight hospital stay.

SportsMed is north Alabama's only medical/surgical practice to include podiatry care. Even initial or minor podiatry care is safest when provided in association with an orthopaedic medical specialist.

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