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Even though bunions are a common foot deformity, many people might not know the cause and/or how to treat them.  Below is a short summary of the cause of a bunion and your treatment options.

What Is a Bunion?

Bunions are often described as a bump on the outside of the big toe. However, the visible bump is actually due to a foot deformity we have acquired.  It reflects a change in the bone structure that lies beneath what we actually see.  With a bunion, the big toe leans toward the second toe, rather than pointing straight ahead. This is caused by the bones in our foot becoming misaligned, producing the bunion’s “bump.”

Bunions are progressive, which means that they usually increase with time. They begin with a leaning of the big toe, gradually changing the angle of the bones over the years and slowly producing the characteristic bump, which continues to become increasingly prominent. Usually the symptoms of bunions appear at later stages, although some people never have symptoms and some might begin to have them in the initial stages.

What Causes a Bunion?

Bunions are most often caused by an inherited structure of the foot.  It is not the bunion itself that is inherited, but our foot type.  It is the mobility of our joints to either move excessively or not move at all.

Although wearing shoes that crowd the toes won’t exactly cause the bunion but it won’t help either, especially if we have that inherited foot structure.  You also may experience symptoms sooner if you are wearing pointy or narrow toe box shoes.


Symptoms occur most often when wearing shoes that crowd the toes — shoes with a tight toe box or high heels (such as pumps). 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.

Symptoms of bunion pain may include but are not limited to:

  • Pain
  • Sorenes
  • Redness to the area around the bump
  • A burning sensation
  • Numbness to side of the bunion
  • And other secondary conditions


Bunions are readily apparent — you can see the prominence at side of the foot. However, to fully evaluate your condition, Dr. Valencia usually will take x–rays to determine the degree of the deformity.  What we may see clinically may either be worse or far better on X-Ray.

Because bunions are progressive, they don’t go away, and will usually get worse over time. But not all cases are alike — some bunions progress more rapidly than others. Once Dr. Valencia has evaluated your particular case, a treatment plan can be developed which will work best for you.


Sometimes observation and modification of shoes or inserts is the trick needed in preventing further deformity.  Coming to the office once or twice a year and having Dr. Valencia evaluate you by physical and radiologic examination will determine progression and need for further intervention.

As an FYI all conservative treatments performed will not reverse the severity of your bunion but may prevent further damage and deformity.

Non-invasive treatments include

  • Changes in shoes.
  • Decrease or increase of certain activities
  • Topical and or oral medications
  • RICE therapy – Rest, Ice, Compression and elevation.
  • Injection therapy.
  • Orthotic devices – in some situations a good pair of custom made inserts can help to prevent further damage and misalignment.

Based on the severity of your deformity surgical treatment may be an option.  Various surgical options are available based on the severity of your deformity.

Please call for an appointment with Dr. Valencia for further evaluation of your bunion deformity and your treatment options.