If you have ever had a bunion, you know how painful they can be. A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe that forms when the bone our tissue at big toe moves out of place. It may become stiff and sore, making it difficult to even wear shoes.

Although bunions tend to run in families, it’s the foot type that is passed down—not the bunion. Parents who suffer from poor foot mechanics can pass their problematic foot type onto their children, who, in turn, are also prone to developing bunions. This abnormal foot function causes pressure to be exerted on and within the foot, often resulting in bone and joint deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.


People who suffer from flat feet or low arches are also prone to developing these problems, as are arthritic patients and those with inflammatory joint disease. Tight and narrow dress shoes with a constricted toe box can cause the foot to begin to take the shape of the shoe, leading to the formation of a bunion. Women who have bunions normally wear dress shoes that are too small for their feet. The toes are squeezed together in the shoes causing the first metatarsal bone to protrude on the side of the foot.

Treatment options vary with the type and severity of each bunion, although identifying the deformity early in its development is important in avoiding surgery. Podiatric attention should be sought at the first indication of pain or discomfort because left untreated, bunions tend to get larger and more painful, making nonsurgical treatment less of an option.

Dr. Stuart Honick, owner of Go Feet Podiatry, in Hammonton and Mays Landing,  is a podiatrist and physical therapist.  He talks about bunion treatment options with Robin Stoloff on her radio show, Living Well, Sundays 9-11am on Lite Rock 96.9 WFPG.