DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have had bunions for years, but they have not bothered me much until recently. I now have pain every day and most shoes hurt my feet. Is surgery the only option at this point? What does that involve, and can it be done on both feet at the same time, or will I need to have each foot done separately?
ANSWER: In a situation like yours, surgery could be considered. But surgery is not the only treatment for bunions. More conservative measures may help decrease your symptoms and relieve pain. If you try them and they don’t work, though, then it would be a good idea to talk with a foot surgeon about surgical options.
The structure of your feet changes over time. Sometimes these are subtle changes that you do not notice. But in other instances, the changes are more substantial. Bunions happen due to changes that force the bones of your feet out of alignment and increase the width of your foot.
When a bunion develops, your big toe actually tilts or drifts away from the midline of your body, eventually crowding the second toe. The bone that is just behind the big toe, called the first metatarsal, drifts or tilts in toward the midline of your body. As the first metatarsal tilts in, it becomes more prominent. That is the bony bump referred to as a bunion.