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What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony, painful lump that forms on the side of your foot, at the base of your big toe.

You will notice the big toe starting to point outwards compared to the other toes. This may even cause your other toes to overlap causing them to rub against your shoes leading to blisters or ulcers.

Sometimes a change in footwear can help with your symptoms, and that may be all the treatment you need, though it’s always best to speak to a GP about how you might try to prevent the bunion getting any worse.

The only way to fully get rid of one is to have surgery. Bunion pain is usually isolated to the affected area, but you may also experience pain in your foot and ankle, due to the change in the way the bunion makes you walk.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

The symptoms of bunions include:

  • Big toe pointing towards other toes
  • A lump on the side of your foot, near your big toe
  • Hard or swollen skin over the lump
  • Pain or swelling in your big toe joint, which can become infected
  • Pain when walking or trying to fit into shoes
  • A swollen big toe

Speak to a GP if you have a bunion - they can recommend whether you need treatment or not in order to prevent it getting worse.

Sometimes you can develop a bunion on your little toe - this is known as a Tailor’s bunion. Here, managing the pain with the correct footwear and using an ice pack can help relieve your symptoms.

Diabetics should consult a doctor as soon as possible if you develop a bunion, because foot problems, especially infection, can lead to serious complications if left untreated.

What causes a bunion?

The reasons for bunions developing are not fully understood, although there are some things that may contribute to them developing.

Repetitive stress on the foot (such as wearing tight high heeled shoes), if you have rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout or psoriasis, or abnormal foot bones are all thought to lead to the problem.

You are also more likely to suffer with one if someone else in your family has one - this is thought to be down to weaknesses in the big toe joint.

It has also been found that people with flexible joints are more prone to developing one, which is why they can be found in children.

Wearing shoes or other types of footwear that are either too tight, or don’t fit you properly, is believed to make the problem worse.

Should I see a GP about my bunion?

A bunion may not need medical attention, so taking some self-help measures may allow you to control any pain at home.

You can try taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to manage symptoms. Using an ice pack and wearing comfortable shoes will help too, or you can buy special bunion shoe inserts and padding that help stop any rubbing.

If you have tried these measures and the problem is not improving or is getting worse, you should see a doctor. They may refer you to a podiatrist, who is a foot specialist, to get the right treatment.

Bunion treatment

The pain caused by bunions will usually be mild. However, there are some measures you can take to relieve the pain you are experiencing. A doctor will be able to advise you on ways to relieve your symptoms.

Home remedies for bunions include:

  • Applying an ice pack to the affected area
  • Elevating your foot
  • Wearing comfortable shoes
  • Losing weight if you are overweight

If these home remedies do not work, surgery may be the next step – this is the only way to fully correct a bunion, although it is possible for them to return even after they have been operated on.

A doctor will be able to assess whether bunion surgery is needed and will refer you to an orthopaedic specialist if they believe that it is.

How can Push Doctor help?

You can see a GP in minutes, from home, work or on the go. Our caring, experienced doctors can look at your bunion over video consultation and recommend the right course of action for you.

They are available from 6am – 11pm, 365 days a year and can look at the affected area over video consultation at a time that suits you. Book an appointment now.