Understanding Bunions and Bunion Surgery: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Bunions are a common foot problem that can cause significant pain and discomfort. At Footprint Health and Wellness Centre in Barrie, Ontario, we specialize in diagnosing and treating bunions, including offering surgical options when necessary. In this blog, we’ll explore what bunions are, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options, including when bunion surgery might be the best solution.

What Are Bunions?

A bunion, medically known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. This occurs when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place, causing the tip of your big toe to get pulled towards the smaller toes and forcing the joint at the base of the big toe to stick out.

Causes of Bunions

Several factors can contribute to the development of bunions, including:

  1. Genetics: Inherited foot structure that is prone to bunion formation.
  2. Footwear: Wearing tight, narrow shoes or high heels that crowd the toes.
  3. Foot Stress or Injuries: Repeated stress or injuries to the foot.
  4. Arthritis: Inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joint.

Symptoms of Bunions

Bunions can cause a variety of symptoms, such as:

  • A visible bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
  • Swelling, redness, or soreness around the big toe joint
  • Corns or calluses where the first and second toes overlap
  • Persistent or intermittent pain
  • Restricted movement of your big toe

Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Bunions

  1. Proper Footwear: Wearing shoes with a wide toe box and avoiding high heels can alleviate pressure on the bunion.
  2. Padding and Taping: Protective pads can cushion the bunion, and taping can help keep the foot in a normal position.
  3. Orthotic Devices: Custom orthotic inserts can help distribute pressure more evenly and provide support.
  4. Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications can reduce pain and swelling.
  5. Ice Application: Applying ice can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  6. Physical Therapy: Exercises to strengthen the muscles around the foot and improve flexibility can be beneficial.

When to Consider Bunion Surgery

If non-surgical treatments do not relieve your symptoms and the pain interferes with your daily activities, bunion surgery may be considered. Surgery is often recommended when:

  • Pain is severe and persistent.
  • The bunion is causing significant deformity.
  • There is chronic inflammation and swelling that doesn’t improve with rest or medications.
  • Toe stiffness prevents you from bending and straightening your toe.

Types of Bunion Surgery

Bunion surgery, also known as a bunionectomy, involves various procedures to correct the deformity. The type of surgery will depend on the severity of the bunion and the specific needs of the patient. Common types of bunion surgery include:

  1. Osteotomy: The surgeon cuts and realigns the bones to correct the deformity.
  2. Exostectomy: Removal of the bony bump from the joint without realigning the bones.
  3. Arthrodesis: Fusing two bones in the affected joint to correct deformity and relieve pain.
  4. Lapidus Procedure: Fusing the joint between the first metatarsal and the medial cuneiform to correct severe bunions.

Recovery After Bunion Surgery

Recovery from bunion surgery typically involves:

  • Rest and Elevation: Keeping the foot elevated to reduce swelling.
  • Wearing a Surgical Shoe or Boot: Protecting the foot and keeping weight off the operated area.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises to regain strength and flexibility.
  • Follow-Up Appointments: Regular check-ups with your chiropodist or surgeon to monitor healing.

Most patients can return to normal activities within six to twelve weeks, although full recovery may take several months.


Bunions can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with proper treatment, including the possibility of surgery, relief is possible. At Footprint Health and Wellness Centre in Barrie, Ontario, we are committed to providing comprehensive care for bunions and other foot problems. If you’re struggling with bunion pain, don’t hesitate to contact us for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

Take the first step towards pain-free feet by scheduling an appointment today. Your comfort and foot health are our top priorities.