Bunions are bony lumps that develop on the side of your foot and at the base of your big toe. They’re the result of a condition called hallux valgus, which causes your big toe joint to bend towards the other toes and become deformed.
If symptoms carry on over a long period, your toe may need to be surgically corrected. This involves straightening your big toe and metatarsals, a process called an osteotomy. Although this may make your joint stiffer, it will ease the pain.
Most surgery can be performed as a day case and takes up to an hour. Your foot will be bandaged and you’ll need to wear a surgical shoe for four to six weeks afterwards.
If your bunion has been caused by rheumatoid arthritis, you may also develop rheumatoid nodules. These firm, pea-sized lumps can occur at pressure points such as your big toe joints, the back of your heels or on your toes, but they can be surgically removed.
It’s worth noting that Hallux valgus is different to hallux rigidus, which is osteoarthritis of the big toe joint. Hallux rigidus causes stiffness in your big toe and you won’t be able to move it as far. If treated early, surgery can be used to remove painful osteophytes (overgrowth of new bone) that can develop and allow more joint movement to return. In more advanced cases, fusion surgery (joining bones together to make one stiff bone where there were two) gives excellent pain relief, although it will mean that the joint will no longer bend when you walk so you high-heeled shoes will no longer be an option.