Doctors call that painful bump jutting out at the base of your big toe hallux valgus, but you might know it as a bunion.

Bunions form when the bone or tissue at the joint at the bottom of the big toe moves out of place. Years of abnormal motion and pressure on the joint forces the big toe to bend toward the others, which causes an often-painful lump on the joint. This joint at the base of the big toe carries much of your weight while walking, so bunions can cause severe and constant pain. The joint may become so stiff and sore that shoes may be too painful to wear. Left untreated bunions can result in other painful foot problems, such as hammertoes, bursitis, or pain in the balls of your feet.

While bunions often run in families, they are typically the result of the shoes we wear. The way we walk can also play a role in the formation of a bunion. While footwear plays a major role in the formation of bunions there are other common denominators. Women tend to develop bunions far more often than men, especially as they get older. People with flexible joints seem to tolerate their bunions more. Those with stiff joints or arthritis usually have more trouble with their bunions and frequently develop pain earlier.

All bunions are permanent unless surgically corrected. But there are some measures you can take to be more comfortable or to slow the progression of a bunion. The first step is to wear proper footwear; low-heeled shoes with a wide toe box are an important first step. We recommend visiting one of our convenient locations for a professional shoe fitting and free gait analysis.

Improper footwear is a common or leading contributor to many foot pathologies including bunions.

So what to do about it?

Start by wearing the right shoes. Visit one of our four locations for a professional fitting today. In addition to wearing proper footwear there are several additional steps that you can take to minimize the discomfort that bunions produce. Use over the counter medical grade orthotics to help position the foot correctly. The experienced fit professionals at Dave’s can fit you for the proper orthotic for your foot size, shape and biomechanical needs. Protect the bunion with a moleskin or gel-filled pad, which you can buy at any of our four locations. When lacing your shoes try skipping the holes that align with the bunion. Frequent warm soaks can make your improve comfort significantly.

Stretching the feet to realign the toes, or using devices such as toe spacers may offer temporary relief but generally any benefit is gone as soon as the spacer is removed. These devices are very different from the splint a podiatrist may suggest you wear overnight. Your podiatrist may also recommend the temporary use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory or other treatment.

For additional information about bunions, stop by any one of our four convenient locations. Our experienced team of fit specialists is always on hand with footwear solutions and common sense advice.

As with any injury see your doctor if your symptoms worsen or do not improve. This material is presented for information purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice or treatment from a medical professional. When in doubt seek medical attention immediately.

We’ve learned a thing or two about injuries in the last forty years but that doesn’t make us doctors. This material is offered for informational use only and should not be taken as medical advice. Only you can decide when it’s time to talk to a doctor. Generally speaking any time an injury persists or worsens it’s time to seek help from a medical professional. Until then we’re happy to share our experience with you to use as you see fit.