A bunion is a bony prominence on the inside of the foot behind the big toe. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an abnormal growth but rather the first metatarsal head protruding out away from the other metatarsals. There are five metatarsals in the foot, one behind each of the toes. Normally they are all fairly close together but as a bunion form, the first metatarsal drifts away from the other metatarsals so that the head of the metatarsal sticks out on the side of the foot. As this happens, the tendons that attach to the big toe pull it over toward the second toe. Now the joint is misaligned and eventually becomes painful. This occurs gradually over a period of years. Bunions are usually hereditary although the condition can be aggravated by high heeled and narrow-toed shoes. Women are much more likely to be troubled with bunions than men.
Bunions cannot be corrected with braces or splints. To correct a bunion requires surgery. There have been great advances with these procedures in recent years. The surgery can be done on an out-patient basis and post-operative pain is usually much less than most patients anticipate.