What are bunions?

5 min read
What are bunions? What are bunions? What are bunions?

What are bunions?

Regular bunions are bony bumps on the side of your foot, just at the base of the big toe joint. They can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.

They slowly develop over time and cause the big toe to turn inwards, towards the other toes. The displacement leads to abnormal motion and increased pressure on this joint. Over years, the abnormal motion and pressure slowly causes a change in the alignment of the metatarsal bones, causing the big toe to turn inwards, sometimes even moving on top of the toe next to it.

As a consequence the joint is pushed outwards, causing the bump. The same condition on the little toe is called bunionette or “tailors toe”. Both can often lead to secondary problems, such as blisters, corns or calluses.

Below you will find advice on how to tackle this issue, limit its progression and ease the pain.

Prevention is key!

You can be more prone to developing bunions for several different reasons; they may run in your family or be caused by inflammatory conditions or foot deformities, the most effective method of prevention is to avoid certain activities or footwear, such as high heels or narrow shoes, which may lead to inflammation of the joint.

Instead choose wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel, a soft sole and adequate room for your toes. Let a shop assistant guide you in the choice of your shoes and size.

Maintaining healthy body weight is also an important preventative factor.

You can provide some relief by padding the painful area using products such as COMPEED® Bunion Plasters.

In extreme cases, they can be removed by bunion surgery.

How to treat a bunion? - Treatment options

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How to effectively ease bunion symptoms without surgery

Bunions can only be removed by surgery, but nevertheless, surgery is rarely necessary. Their progression and symptoms can usually easily be managed and treated conservatively; often at home.

  • Footwear – If you already have a bunion, wide shoes are equally important to slow down the progression as well as to ease the pain. Specialised stretchers might also help to loosen your shoes. Top tip: Buy your shoes at the end of the day when your feet are largest and let a shop assistant measure both your feet before advising you on your choice of shoes.
  • Padding – If there is rubbing against the shoe, padding might help you. Specialist hydrocolloid bunion plasters, such as COMPEED® Bunion Plasters relieve pressure and rubbing on the affected area and thus ease the pain. They also help to prevent blisters and further hardening of the skin on and around the bunion.
  • Orthotics options – Your doctor will advise you regarding the best options to manage your bunions. Depending on the severity, insoles, toe spacers or toe supports might help position the foot correctly.
  • Pain management – Bunion pain might be eased by cooling, using an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas for about 5 min at a time, or by warm soaks. Anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen will also help.
  • Seek advice from your doctor or your pharmacist on which medicinal treatment is best for you.

When should I seek medical advice?

You should always see your doctor if you have diabetes since your foot problems might have a different cause.

If the pain is persistent or so strong that it affects your daily activities, you should see a doctor. You should also seek medical advice if the condition doesn’t improve after a couple of weeks of home treatment or if the condition worsens. Your doctor will advise you regarding the best options for you to manage your bunions. Depending on the severity, your doctor might recommend orthotics or refer you to a surgeon in order to discuss the option of surgically removing your bunion and correcting the underlying condition.

Frequently asked questions

What are bunions?

Bunions are hard lumps on the big toe joint. They can be incredibly painful.

What causes bunions?

Inward pressure on the toes can lead to bunions, as the toe points towards the foot and the joint is pushed out. Tight and uncomfortable shoes can also aggravate this condition.

How to treat bunions?

Surgery is the only permanent cure. Fortunately, you can minimise friction and rubbing on the hardened area.
COMPEED Bunion Plasters cushion the skin to prevent further rubbing, providing instant relief from pressure and hardened skin.

How can I prevent bunions?

It may be possible to delay the progression of bunions by taking extra care of your feet. Avoid unnecessary pressure by wearing properly fitting shoes, especially near the joint and toe area. For those occasions where you might wish to wear less comfortable shoes, cushion the area to minimise pressure.

Samuelle Yohou
Samuelle Yohou
Medical Manager at HRA Pharma since March 2021, Samuelle Yohou is responsible for ensuring information published on COMPEED’s UK and Ireland websites is accurate and up to date from a medical and regulatory perspective.