Common Conditions

What is a bunion?

A bunion is often described as a bump on the side of the big toe. But a bunion is more than that. The visible bump actually reflects changes in the bony structure of the front part of the foot. This change in bone structure can effect the way you walk and run which commonly causes symptoms such as heel pain, achilles pain or arch pain. The “bump” on the inside of the foot is in fact the head of the first metatarsal which has moved out of alignment.

Bunions are a progressive disorder and are generally hereditary. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic large bump, as seen in the picture, which becomes increasingly prominent.

Symptoms usually appear at later stages, although some people never have symptoms.



  • Inflammation and redness.
  • A burning sensation.
  • Pain or soreness rubbing on the “bump”.
  • Mechanical changes to your foot structure which can cause general foot pain.

Symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes, such as shoes with a tight toe box or high heels. This may explain why women are more likely to have symptoms than men. In addition, spending long periods of time on your feet can aggravate the symptoms of bunions.

What do I do if I have a bunion?

At South West Podiatry our experienced podiatry team review many bunions every day. We can help you understand the cause and discuss if you require any treatment for your condition. Bunions can be classified as grade 1,2 or 3. Treatment of your condition would depend on the grade of your bunion and whether it is causing any secondary problems such as corns, callous, heel pain, arch pain or general foot pain. We may request X-Rays to identify the degree of structural changes or osteoarthritis. If you have general foot pain or other secondary symptoms, your podiatrist may discuss a full Gait analysis / Biomechanical examination for the prescription of custom made orthotics.

Injections of steroid can be helpful if a diagnosis of bursitis or osteoarthritis is made by your podiatrist. If your podiatrist feels you would benefit from a surgical opinion, we may refer you back to your doctor or directly to an experienced surgeon.