What is a bunion?

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about bunions. The fact is they’re genetic, and manageable.

So what is a bunion? It’s not just a bony bump on the outside of your foot. That’s way too simple. A bunion is a foot abnormality caused by a misalignment within the foot; a misalignment of the first metatarsal bone–the one leading from the middle of your foot to the big toe–or of the first metatarsal cuneiform joint where that bone joins the rest of your foot, or of the big toe joint itself. Or all of the above.

The result is that bony bump you see, which is actually the head of the misaligned first metatarsal bone sticking out to the side, along with a swollen first toe joint and a big toe that may lean toward your second toe, or even overlap it. Bunions involve not just the bones, but ligaments, tendons, cartilage and muscle, too.

If you’re lucky, it’s not painful. But most bunions are. They’re all pretty ugly. And they usually get worse with time.