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Synonym: hallux valgus; hallux abducto valgus

Just as common as corns and calluses, bunions are swellings that develop generally on the inner side of the fot around the base of the big toe.

These very painful swellings are more serious then a corn or callus and cause severe problems with wwalking, can easily become inflamed and sometimes will cause calluses and lesions (sore or ulceration). With lymphedema any open area can quickly develop into a serious infection.

With a bunion, the base of your big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint) gets larger and sticks out. The skin over it may be red and tender. Wearing any type of shoe may be painful. This joint flexes with every step you take. The bigger your bunion gets, the more it hurts to walk. Bursitis may set in. Your big toe may angle toward your second toe, or even move all the way under it. The skin on the bottom of your foot may become thicker and painful. Pressure from your big toe may force your second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping your third toe. An advanced bunion may make your foot look grotesque. If your bunion gets too severe, it may be difficult to walk. Your pain may become chronic and you may develop arthritis.(1)


Bunions result from inflammation and thickening of the bursa (fluid-filled sac in the connective tissue) and cause abnormal bone formation and misalignment of the toe.(2)

They can be triggered by tight, pointy-toed shoes or high heeled shoes. Because of this women are more prone to get bunions then men.


There is no real way of treating bunons at home.

Some advise soaking the feet in a solution of vinegar and warm water. This may relieve the discomfort, but treatment to remove and prevent reoccurance is important.

The simplest surgery involves shaving the growth or lump.

It can also involve a more intrusive surgery where the foot bones are factured and realigned. If this need to be done, it is important to informed the surgeon of your lymphedema and the need to be on antibiotics at least a week before the surgery.

After the surgery, you’lll need to be especially careful as you may not be able to wear your compression stocking or wrap for a few days or even more. Discuss this thoroughly too with your lymhpedema therapist.

The actual surgical procedure may involve:

  • removing the abnormal bony enlargement of the first metatarsal,
  • realigning the first metatarsal bone relative to the adjacent metatarsal bone,
  • straightening the great toe relative to the first metatarsal and adjacent toes,
  • realigning the cartilagenous surfaces of the great toe joint,
  • addressing arthritic changes associated with the great toe joint,
  • repositioning the sesamoid bones beneath the first metatarsal bone,
  • shortening, lengthening, raising, or lowering the first metatarsal bone, and
  • correcting any abnormal bowing or misalignment within the great toe.

The age, health, lifestyle, and activity level of the patient may also play a role in the choice of procedure.

Preventing Bunions

  • Never try to force your foot into a shoe that doesn't fit well, or is too tight.
  • Wear soft-soled shoes with wide insteps and ample space for the toes.
  • Don't wear any heels higher than 2 1/4 inches.
  • Avoid pointy-toed shoes.
  • Wear cushioned pads in your shoes to prevent a bunion, and also to ease the pain of a bunion that has already formed.

External Links

Understanding Bunions -- the Basics


Bunions (Hallux Valgus)




AAOS (1)



Lymphedema People Links

Lymphedema People Resources

bunions.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/16 14:40 (external edit)