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Bunion surgery

BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information tells you about an operation to get rid of bunions. It explains how the operation is done, how it can help you, what the risks are, and what to expect afterwards.

The benefits and risks described here are based on research studies and might be different in your hospital or clinic. You may want to talk about this with the podiatrists and surgeons treating you.

What is a bunion operation?


If you have a bony bump at the base of your big toe, you probably have a bunion.

During a bunion operation your surgeon takes out the bony bump and puts your big toe back into a straight line. After the operation the joint on the inside of your foot won't stick out any more.

Most people have few problems after bunion surgery. But the operation has risks. Your big toe may not be perfectly straight and you may have some pain. It can take up to one year to get better.

Your doctor will only usually recommend surgery if your bunion is painful or beginning to push your other toes out of line.

What is a bunion?


A bunion is a bony bump at the base of your big toe. Bunions are far more common in women than in men.[1] About one half of all women get them.[2]

A bunion happens when the two main bones in your big toe joint move and are no longer in line with each other.[3] This makes your toe joint stick out. The bony bump is the bunion.[3]

Sometimes a sac of fluid forms over the bump. It's like a blister. Doctors call this sac a bursa.[4][5] The sac can get inflamed when your bunion rubs on your shoes. If this happens, you also have bursitis.

Doctors call bunions hallux valgus. Hallux means big toe. Valgus means bent outwards. A bunion is simply a joint that is out of line. It isn't a growth on the side of your toe, as some people think.

Bunions can hurt a lot. You may notice the area around the bunion is swollen and red. And you may find it hard to walk. Your big toe may start to roll on its side and cross over your second toe. And your big toe can push your second toe towards your third toe and so on. Your toes may even lie on top of each other.[4][5]

Some people get a small bunion, called a bunionette, on their little toe. This is also known as a tailor's bunion.[6]

Doctors don't really know why some people get bunions. The shape of your foot and how you walk probably have something to do with it.[1] Wearing shoes that are too tight can make the problem worse.[7]

Last Updated: April 04, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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