Christian K. Kikuchi, MD Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Reconstructive Surgery
1401 South Beretania Street, Suite 750 Honolulu, HI 96814 808-356-5644

Bunions

Bunions are bone deformations that form on the foot where it joins the big toe. They develop over time, gradually getting bigger and sticking out from the rest of the foot. Bunions are caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, with many people predisposed to developing them due to a weakened foot structure. Others get bunions because of chronic stress on the big toe or a chronic condition like arthritis.

Did you know…

that wearing the right shoes can help prevent bunions and prevent existing ones from worsening? Shoes should never crowd the toes and should support the natural shape of your feet. It is also wise to purchase shoes with a wide toe area, allowing plenty of space between the toes and the end of the shoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

Bunions are easily identified by the large, protruding bump they cause at the base of the big toe. Usually, the big toe begins to angle away from the body, potentially leading to redness, soreness and swelling. The skin may also become thickened and develop calluses.

Should I see a doctor about my bunions?

Many people live with bunions for years without any problems. However, they may lead to complications, such as ‘hammertoe’ or ‘bursitis’ if left untreated. Schedule an appointment to meet with an orthopedic surgeon if your bunions are worsening, causing chronic toe or foot pain, or if they are limiting your mobility. You may also wish to consult with a doctor about bunion treatment if your bunions are a source of embarrassment or affecting your ability to find shoes that fit.

What types of bunion treatments are available?

Not everyone who has bunions requires treatment. However, your orthopedic surgeon may recommend addressing the symptoms of bunions by first changing shoes or using foot orthotics that support the big toe in a ‘normal’ position. Steroid injections or over-the-counter medications may also be used to reduce inflammation and temporarily manage pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pain and restore the toe’s natural position.

Bunions are a deformity in the mechanical structure of the foot. They form as bony structures at the base of the big toe. Bunions are often caused by a combination of weak foot structure and years of wearing poorly fitting or tight shoes, though they may also develop as a result of arthritis. An estimated 23 percent of adults under age 65 and 36 percent of adults over age 65 have bunions. Many live with them complication-free, while others experience pain associated with the condition. Though conservative treatments are often effective for reducing bunion discomfort, some people require surgery to gain relief.

Who is a candidate for bunion surgery?

Bunion surgery is not for everyone. We recommend first trying more conservative treatments, such as alternative footwear, before undergoing surgery to correct bunions. If conservative treatments fail, talk to your surgeon about whether surgery could be right for you.

What happens during a bunion surgery?

You will be sedated and anesthetized for the duration of the procedure. Incisions are made around the surgical site, through which your doctor may cut the deformed bone and realign it with the rest of the foot. Since bunion surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, most patients can go home the same day as the operation.

How long is the recovery period after bunion surgery?

Recovery from bunion surgery takes time. The initial 6 weeks after surgery are the time when patients must be most restrictive with activity. It is important to avoid putting too much weight on the treated foot and refrain from all high impact activities. Gradually, your surgeon will release you to begin increasing your activity levels over a period of several months. Keep in mind that recovery from bunion surgery may affect your ability to drive, work or bathe in the first several weeks post-op. It may help to arrange assistance with the activities you are limited in. Talk to your employer about how much time you can take off for recovery and whether you can use crutches or a motorized scooter at work.

Is the recovery period painful?

It is normal to experience discomfort following a bunion operation. However, your surgeon may provide you with medications to help control pain while you heal. For more information about pain management after a bunion surgery, contact our office or visit our surgery information page.