What Is a Bunion? | Keck Medicine of USC

What Is a Bunion?

Your feet help you stand and get around, but what can you do to protect them from bunions?

Anyone can develop a bunion, but the condition is more common in women than in men. We turned to Eric Tan, MD, a foot specialist at USC Orthopaedic Surgery at Keck Medicine of USC and assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, for a better understanding of what bunions are, how they are treated and how they can be prevented.

What is a bunion?

“A bunion is where your big toe starts to drift towards the inside of the foot. Imagine if you were looking at your right foot. Your big toe would start to move further to the right, so it creates an L like shape on the side of your foot. You will start to see a bump over the big toe.”

How does someone get a bunion?

“Sometimes, bunions are genetic. If you have a relative, such as a grandmother or father who had a bunion, the chances of you getting a bunion increases. Other times, bunions are caused by the type of shoes you wear. This is especially the case for women’s shoes or any shoes that have a narrow peak in the front. When your feet are constricted, the toes are pushed together. As the big toe moves further inward it will start to run into the other toes. This could potentially lead to hammertoe as the big toe starts to cross under the second toe.”

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How do you know if you have a bunion?

“Most people do not even realize they have a bunion until it becomes a problem. Your toe could drift over and you might not even notice it. As time progresses you may find that it feels really tight in the front of your shoes, especially on the inside of your foot. That is the case if you have a bunion because the inside of the big toe is hitting the shoe. This usually alerts people that they have a problem.”

Does a bunion cause a bump?

“The bunion causes a residual bump that is on the inside of your foot. That bump is what rubs onto the shoe. In more serious cases you will start to see ulcerations of the skin because of how the shoe rubs against the toes.”

What kinds of resolutions are there?

“Some people don’t experience pain so they live with the condition. Others monitor and make adjustments to their lifestyle. In a few situations, foot surgery is an option.”

How do I prevent a bunion?

“Make sure you keep your toes flexible. Keep them moving. You can do this by avoiding shoes that constrict your feet.”

To learn more about the USC Orthopaedic Surgery, visit ortho.keckmedicine.org. To schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit https://ortho.keckmedicine.org/patient-information/request-an-appointment/.