The Most Common Types of Bunions and Treatment Options

If you’re among the 30% of people who develop a bunion, you know the disfigurement, pain, and discomfort they cause. Bunions are those bony bumps on the sides of the foot, most commonly near the big toe. The bunion itself is more than a simple annoyance. A bunion indicates that your foot anatomy has changed.

A bunion begins as the big toe turning in toward the second toe, but when this new direction continues, the physical alignment of the bones in the foot changes, and the bone protrudes. In its early stages, you don’t really notice a bunion forming. As it progresses, however, you may notice more discomfort when you wear high heels or shoes that pinch your toes.

Over time, a bunion can cause pain, burning, swelling and redness, numbness, and eventually cause difficulty walking. While the bunion known as hallux valgus is most common, it’s not the only type of bunion you might suffer. Learn about the different bunion types and treatment options.

Hallux valgus

When your big toe drifts toward the next toe at an angle that exceeds 15 degrees, you’re diagnosed with a bunion. This type is found outside your big toe and may be accommodated with extra wide shoes. You may also be able to control pain with anti-inflammatory medications.

If you continue to experience pain on a daily basis and shoes become impossible to wear, you may need surgery to restore natural bone alignment. Surgery is not performed just to get rid of the bump, but to ease pain and dysfunction associated with the bunion.

Hallux limitus (or hallux rigidus)

A smaller bunion that is caused by limited range of motion at the big toe joint is often diagnosed as hallux limitus (or rigidus). Over time, you keep jamming your big toe due to stiffness, which leads to the bunion’s formation.

Hallux limitus can often be successfully treated with stiff-soled or rocker-soled shoes. We may also recommend custom orthotics that support your foot and prevent the toe jamming that causes a bunion to form.

Tailor’s bunion

A bunionette, or tailor’s bunion, forms at the little toe rather than at the big toe. It’s a result of irregular foot structure, often due to genetics.

We focus on conservative treatments first when helping ease the pain and discomfort of a tailor’s bunion. You may choose shoes with a wider toe box, and we can place padding on the bunionette. If you don’t find relief with these measures, you may need surgery to correct the alignment of the bones so your toe no longer expands outward.

Surgery as a solution

In all cases of a bunion, surgery is an option when conservative treatments fail to resolve your pain. Bunion surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis and in most cases, it is a pain free surgery and you can be walking almost immediately.  Sometimes, you have pins or screws inserted to help your toes maintain their new alignment. In cases of severe deformity, you may even need a fusion procedure called a Lapidus type procedure but Dr. Bregman has been trained on using the latest Lapiplasty procedure for early weight-bearing.  The most common procedure he performs is called a Scarf osteotomy and he as a great 4k video online showing exactly how the procedure is done and it is used by other surgeons who are learning the technique.


Dr. Peter J. Bregman offers expert evaluation of your bunion and provides a customized treatment plan to help you find relief. He provides support for all of your foot and ankle problems at Bregman Foot-Ankle & Nerve Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Call the office or schedule an appointment using this website.

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