The main symptom of a bunion is the formation of a hard lump that forms on the side of the foot by the big toe, so the large toe will point towards the other toes. This often causes hard, red or swollen skin over the lump.

You may also have pain along the side or bottom of the foot, usually worse on walking or when wearing shoes.

Easing the pain

Bunions tend to be hereditary and although you can’t stop them from getting worse, there are things you can do to ease the pain and minimise discomfort.

  • Wear wider-fitting shoes or shoes with a wider toe box to stop friction over the area. 
  • Wear shoes with a soft insole, low heel and soft sole.
  • Apply an icepack to the area for about 5 minutes at a time to try and reduce any inflammation.
  • Try bunion pads (available through your foot health professional or at the chemist). These stop the friction and pressure caused by the extra growth.
  • Take paracetamol or ibroprofen to ease the pain.
  • If you are overweight, try to reduce your weight.
  • Don’t wear high heels or tight pointed shoes
When to seek advice from a GP or foot health professional
  • If the pain continues after trying the above advice 
  • The pain is stopping you from doing your normal activities
  • Your bunions are getting worse
  • You have diabeties or are in a high-risk category 
Treatment for a bunion from a GP or foot health professional
  • Orthotics, toe spacers and toe supports to ease the symptoms
  • Referral to a surgeon if you are in a high-risk group, are diabetic or it is causing you a great deal of pain
Surgery for bunions
  • Surgery is the only way to reduce the mass of bone but it is not always successful and the bony growth might grow back.
  • Surgery is not without risks.
  • You usually need to stay off your feet as much as possible for the first two weeks
  • Avoid driving for 6–8 weeks
  • Stay off work for 6–12 weeks – depending on type of employment
  • Avoid sports for up to 6 months
After the operation
  • Your toes might be weaker or stiffer than before
  • They might not be perfectly straight
  • Your feet might still be slightly wide, so you’ll probably still need to wear wide, comfy shoes
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