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What is it?

A bunion is a bump at the base of the great toe that develops over time. The deformity results from gradual shifting of the first toe joint over time, such that the great toe starts shifting sideways, towards the other toes. Risk factors for developing a bunion include genetics (it is often inherited) and wearing tight/narrow-fitting shoes over time (such as heels).

What symptoms does it cause?

Some bunions don’t hurt at all, but others can be very painful. Sometimes there is soft tissue swelling and/or redness at the bunion from shoe irritation.

How is it diagnosed?

A bunion is diagnosed by X-ray and physical exam.

How is it treated?

Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. If there is no pain associated with a bunion, it can be left alone. If the bunion is painful, treatment begins with trial of non-surgical measures, including bunion padding, wearing comfortable wide toe box shoes or open-toe shoes that don’t irritate it, taking anti-inflammatories, and icing. If these measures fail to sufficiently relieve discomfort, then surgery can be done to correct the bunion.

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Foot and Ankle Surgeon is Athlete at Heart

Ahmed Sonya

Dr. Sonya Ahmed is the chief of foot and ankle surgery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego Health. See how this 1996 Olympic hopeful vaulted her way through medical school. Read article.

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