Bunions (Hallux Valgus)

Peter Wishnie, D.P.M.
Owner of Family Foot & Ankle Specialists in Piscataway & Hillsborough, NJ

What is a Bunion
Bunions are misaligned big toe joints that can become swollen and tender, causing the first joint of the big toe to slant outward, and the second joint to angle toward the other toes. Bunions tend to be hereditary, but can be aggravated by shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot and toe. Surgery by a podiatric physician is frequently recommended to correct the problem.


Causes of Bunions:
Pointed shoes, such as high heels and cowboy boots, can contribute to the development of hallux valgus. Abnormal foot function comes into play in the development of almost all bunions, and the most common abnormality is over-pronation or excessive flattening of the foot, easily correctable with an orthotic.  In addition, hereditity can also be a factor for the cause of bunions.

The symptoms of hallux valgus usually center around the bunion. The bunion can be painful. The severe hallux valgus deformity is also distressing to many, and becomes a cosmetic problem. Finding appropriate shoe wear can become difficult. Finally, increasing deformity begins to displace the second toe upward, and may create a situation where the second toe is constantly rubbing on the shoe.


Conservative Treatment
Treatment of hallux valgus nearly always starts with adapting the shoe wear to fit the foot. In the early stages of hallux valgus, converting from a pointed toe shoe to a wider box toe shoe may arrest the progression of the deformity. The pain that arises from the bunion is due to pressure from the shoe. Treatment focuses on removing the pressure that the shoe exerts on the deformity. Wider shoes reduce the pressure on the bunion. Bunion pads may reduce pressure and rubbing from the shoe. There are also numerous devices, such as toe spacers, that attempt to splint the big toe and reverse the deforming forces. 


Treatment with Bunion Surgery 
In some very mild cases of bunion formation, surgery
may only be required to remove the bump that makes up the bunion. There are many negative stereotypes associated with bunion surgery. People have heard horror stories from grandma's and neighbors...well my friend, times have changed! It's not the same bunion surgery your grandmother had, bunion surgery does not have to be painful. The recovery time for bunion can be very short depending on your situation. 

Remember: The bunion is not going to go away...you need to treat it and the earlier you do, the less likely your bunion will require surgery!



"I had suffered painful foot problems for years, due to poor bone structure of both feet - bunions and hammertoes. This caused me constant discomfort especially during gym workouts and physical activity. I also often worked at jobs which required me to be on my feet for hours. Foot pain isn't something you can ignore forever - it wears you down. I have since had both feet surgically repaired by Dr. Wishnie, and I've never felt better. My only regret was that I put it off for so long. I should have don't it sooner. I cant speak highly enough of Dr Wishnie and his entire staff - they are truly caring and professional people, and I know I received the best possible care. I recommend anyone I know who has foot problems to see Dr. Wishnie. He is truly the best. He always makes you feel like you are his only patient that day, even though he has many."

- Justine DiCecco