What do bunions and onions have in common? They can both make you cry. If you develop an abnormal bump on the side of your foot, chances are it’s a bunion. It is painful and it won’t go away on its own. When it comes to the development of a bump near your big toe, the entire bone structure of the foot is affected.

This foot condition develops over time. What starts as a small bump at the joint of your big toe can grow to be an unnaturally large protrusion that causes the big toe to bend toward the rest. The bone of the big toe begins to extend beyond the normal confines of your foot structure and turns into a large bump on the side of the foot.

Bunion Basics

What Are the Causes?

This condition may be hereditary, result from arthritis or weak foot structure, or even form due to differing leg lengths. The distension typically begins forming in early adulthood and if left untreated can become worse and deform the foot.

Tight shoes and high heels contribute to the formation of these painful bumps. Ill-fitting footwear causes the bones of the feet to take on unnatural curves. Women and individuals with flat feet are the most likely to suffer from this condition.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms aren’t apparent or noticeable during early formation. As the deformity matures and develops the area surrounding the big toe becomes extremely painful, tender, swollen, and red in color. The forefoot and ball of the foot will also become sensitive.

As the condition worsens the presence of hardened skin or calluses will even form overtop of the bump. It is possible to experience a burning sensation, and loss of feeling or numbness may be present. Walking with these problems can be extremely difficult.

How Are They Treated?

If you’ve developed this foot condition, the Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona can help you find the best treatment option. We aim to provide you with relief and stop forward progression of the distension. Upon examination, they will take x-rays to determine the severity of your bone deformity.

Mild cases can be treated by finding the proper footwear. By stabilizing the joint of the foot, custom orthotics and inserts can relieve pressure, stop potential growth, and even direct the foot back to its normal position. Protective padding will improve swelling. Mobility exercises are also recommended.


Much like a regular bunion, a bunionette is a bulging joint on the outside of your foot, where the metatarsals and toes meet. Unlike a regular bunion, it is not at the base of the big toe—it’s at the base of the fifth, or littlest, digit. This small deformity is often called a tailor’s bunion, because it used to be common among tailors centuries ago, as a result of sitting day after day with feet crossed and that joint rubbing against the floor.

The problem develops when something causes the joint to protrude outward, along with pressure on the outside of the foot. Generally this is a faulty biomechanical problem, which can be inherited. Pressure on the outside of the forefoot causes the toe to tilt inward, while the head of the metatarsal bulges outward. Often the toe slips under its neighbor. Any friction on the side of the foot can contribute to the problem, too. Shoes are particularly tricky. Narrow or pointed styles rub against the joint and aggravate it, causing pain and making the deformity worse.

Signs to Watch For

Like normal bunions, a bunionette is a progressive problem that will deteriorate slowly over time. The symptoms usually start small. You may notice redness and swelling around the protruding joint.  Over time, the bulge tends to get bigger and more pronounced as the toe tilts more inward. You may be prone to blisters or calluses in that area. The bump can make it difficult, or at least uncomfortable, to wear certain shoes—particularly kinds that are too tight, narrow, or pointed around the toes.

Moderate deformities require a more extensive treatment plan. Added to mobility exercises and proper footwear is prescription medication to relieve pain, inflammation, and discomfort.

Severe bunions often require surgery. Surgical procedures will correct the misaligned bone structure as well as remove the bump.

Let Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona help you eliminate your discomfort. It’s not normal for feet to be in pain, so don’t live like it is.