A bunion is an enlargement of bone or tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe that causes a bump on the joint. The big toe may turn toward the second toe (displacement), and the tissues surrounding the joint may be swollen and tender.

Bunions may be caused by abnormal foot mechanics that result in too much pressure on the great toe joint. Over time, the constant pressure forces the big toe joint out of alignment. An inherited foot type (such as flatfoot), and abnormal foot motion (excessive pronation), and ill-fitting shoes may all contribute to the deformity.

A bunion may not have any symptoms, or the symptoms may develop gradually.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling or a bump at the base of the great toe
  • Bending of the big toe toward the other toes
  • A red, painful joint
  • Irritated skin over the bunion

Home treatment, including wearing shoes with low to moderate heels and with plenty of room in the toe box (the area that surrounds the toes), is often all that is needed to take pressure off the great toe joint and relieve pain. If home treatment does not provide enough relief, prescription orthotics or surgery may be needed.


Bunions can also occur at the joint at the base of the 5th (little) toe and are commonly referred to as “Tailor’s Bunions” or “Bunionettes”. While the 5th toe joint is not as critical as the great toe joint, these bunions can also cause considerable pain and discomfort – – mostly from pressure from shoes.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling or a bump at the base of the little toe
  • A red, painful and prominent joint at the base of the little toe
  • Irritated skin over the joint


The type of bunion surgery (referred to as a bunionectomy) depends upon the degree of deformity, other structural conditions and functional components such as pronation and instability of certain joints in the foot. There are many types of bunion procedures, and to determine the best procedure for you involves a complete foot exam including a range of motion exam and review of the structural deformities on x-ray. Our physicians gather all pertinent information and make recommendations based on their findings. You are fully informed of the different treatment options, you get to see your x-ray images and all expectations and potential risks are discussed in detail prior to the surgery.


  • When you can no longer wear shoes comfortably
  • Great toe joint is painful with or without shoes
  • The pain interferes with your lifestyle and physical activities

If you suspect you need bunion surgery, schedule an exam today to find out what course of treatment our physicians would recommend.

Call Central Carolina Foot and Ankle Associates at 919-477-9333 for an appointment or click the link below.

Central Carolina Foot & Ankle Associates

2609 N. Duke Street, Ste. 301
Durham, NC 27704
(near the corner of N. Duke St. and Stadium Dr.)

5107 Southpark Drive
Suite 202
Durham, NC 27713
(close to RTP and Chapel Hill)