Patient 2 after

Patient 2 before

Patient 1 after

Patient 1 before

Surgical treatment

Bunion surgery certainly has its potential complications, but has a long and successful track record for long term or permanent correction. There are certainly cases of poor outcomes, but in experienced hands the risks are minimized.  In addition, advances in medicine have led to improved recovery.  This includes in most cases, the ability to walk either immediately or within a week after surgery. See below for different types of bunion correction.

Conservative treatment

The fact that this involves bones that are out of position, conservative treatment is often limited to:

  • Keeping pressure off the bump.
  • Padding around the bump.
  • Orthotics may slow the progress (there are no good studies to prove or disprove this idea).
  • Orthotics can redistribute abnormal pressure and offload painful joints.
  • Oral medication such as ibuprofen can relieve pain.
  • Cortisone injections for painful joints or bursa.
  • Strapping and splinting for temporary positional change of the big toe or hammertoes.
the 5th toe because of the abnormal position of the joint. Pain is almost always due to abnormal pressure as arthritis of the 5th toe joint is extremely rare.

In reality, a traditional bunion is more than just a bump. It consists of a fairly complex three dimensional positional change of the bone behind the toe, called the metatarsal. The metatarsal actually moves out of a normal position, moves up, and rotates. This leads to abnormal pressure at the site of the bump, but also leads to abnormal pressure at the smaller adjacent joints. This often leads to toe deformity. This also leads to abnormal alignment of the big toe joint which can eventually destroy the joint (arthritis). Pain can therefore develop due to pressure on the deformity or within the joint because of the abnormal position.

Tailors bunions, or bunionettes, are also due to the deformity of the metatarsal. This can be due to a bone that has moved out of position, but more commonly is due to bowing of the bone or an excessively large metatarsal head. There is usually deformity of 


A bunion in the simplest terms is a bump on the side of the foot.  A bump that develops behind the big toe is considered a traditional bunion. A bump that develops behind the pinky (5th) toe is called a tailors bunion.    

     Ankle and Foot Clinic of Idaho

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