Bunions are common, especially in women. It is suspected that the repeated use of women's pointed-toe high-heeled shoes puts added stress and pressure on the tissues at the base of the big toe. Accordingly, bunions occur more frequently in ballet dancers. Bunions also occur more frequently in people with injury to the joint at the base of the big toe, and the tendency to develop bunions can be inherited.


Because bunions can be associated with local inflammation of the tissues around the joint and even adjacent bursitis, swelling, redness, pain, and tenderness are common symptoms in the area of a bunion. Sometimes adjacent nerve irritation can lead to numbness or tingling of the big toe. There is usually localized soft tissue and bony enlargement within the bunion. The affected toe is often displaced against the adjacent toe, resulting in deformity.


Bunions are usually managed with rest, cold applications, and antiinflammatory medications. A change of footwear to lessen pressure on the affected toe and joint is often helpful. A local injection of cortisone (Kenalog, Depomedrol) in the inflamed area can rapidly reduce the pain, swelling, and tenderness from inflammation.