What are bunions?

A bunion is a deformity affecting the metatarsal joint at the bottom of your big toe. Bunions form prominent bony bumps on the side of your big toe and force your toe to point toward or possibly overlap your second toe.

Bunions often cause sharp or stabbing metatarsal joint pain, along with pain in other connected parts of your foot. Many bunion sufferers also have calluses caused by irregular foot movement. If you develop a bunion, it’s often difficult to wear most shoes.

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What causes bunions?

You can inherit a tendency toward bunions from your parents. Ligament laxity and flat feet are both common causes of bunions, too. Even though high heels or other constrictive shoes don’t cause bunions, they can definitely make them much worse and cause recurring bunions.

How do you diagnose bunions?

The Valley Foot & Ankle specialists diagnose bunions after a careful visual exam of your foot. Because many bunions cause foot changes beyond the joint, your podiatry care team also uses X-rays for detailed assessment and treatment planning.

How do you treat bunions?

Treatment depends on how serious your bunion is. Often, nonsurgical approaches work very well, especially if you seek treatment before the bunion causes major damage to the framework of your foot. Treatments may include:

Custom orthotics

The Valley Foot & Ankle team designs custom orthotics for your particular issues, allowing them to optimize your joint movement while relieving other contributing problems like flat foot.

New footwear

Shoes with a wider toe box can eliminate pressure on your bunion. Another option is rocker bottom shoes that shift your weight to compensate for your bunion joint function problems.


Padding can prevent friction and relieve pressure on your bunion.

Bunion splints

Bunion splints reposition your big toe. Typically, you wear the splint overnight to correct alignment.


Cortisone injections can reduce inflammation and alleviate your pain.


Deciding on the appropriate bunion surgery is important as not all bunions are the same and not all procedures address bunions in the same way. Ultimately the correct procedure depends on your clinical exam, X-rays as well as what your activity level, health factors and goals are.

Among many bunion procedures, Valley Foot and Ankle surgeons Dr. Carlis and Dr. Robertson offer the Lapiplasty bunionectomy. This is an excellent procedure for patients with severe bunions which can be unstable, leading bones of the big toe joint to shift and sometimes rotate. For this population of patients the Lapiplasty can offer an anatomically sound procedure aimed at fixing the root of the bunion problem instead of just shaving or shifting bone. Because of the inherent stability of the procedure, patients can usually bear weight within the first two weeks of surgery in a removable boot.

Schedule an appointment with our doctors to discuss your bunion and find out what treatment option is best for you!