Foot & Ankle

Cause & Symptoms

A bunion is a swelling at the base of your big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint) most likely caused by wearing tight, narrow shoes. Bunions may also be caused by wearing high heels, and may be hereditary. Ninety percent of bunions occur in women.

The larger the bunion gets, the more painful it is to walk. Bursitis or arthritis may result.


Prevention is the best strategy against bunions. Choose well-fit shoes with wide insteps and toes, and cushioning soles. Avoid heels higher than 2 inches. If you already have a bunion, wear shoes roomy enough to avoid putting pressure on it, and try a protective pad on the affected area.

Repair & Recovery

Surgery is normally not necessary to treat bunions. If your bunions makes walking very painful, and if roomier shoes don’t help, your Boston Orthopedics and Spine physician may recommend surgery. Bunion surgery realigns your big to back to its correct position. While the surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis, there is usually a long recovery time with persistent stiffness and swelling.