When Do Bunions Require Surgery?

Bunions can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and incredibly painful. If you catch them early, you can prevent them from getting worse, but severe bunions can only be treated with surgery. 

If you’ve been suffering from these painful bumps, our specialists at Preva Surgicare - Surgery Center Of The Woodlands can help relieve your pain. We offer a number of podiatry services, including bunion care and surgery. Read on to find out when you might need surgical options to treat your bunions. 

What are bunions?

Bunions are hard, bony lumps at the base of your big toes. They are deformities caused when the base joint in your big toe starts to enlarge, pushing your big toe inward towards your second toe. 

Symptoms of bunions include your big toe pointing towards other toes, hard painful lumps on the side of your feet, and red or swollen skin around that lump.

What causes bunions?

It’s unclear what exactly causes bunions, but they are thought to be caused by a genetic tendency to have weak toe joints, foot injuries and stress, and as well as joint conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

Wearing tight, narrow, or poorly fitting shoes can place pressure on your toe joints and may trigger bunions to develop. High heels and other fashionable shoes are a common culprit, but any type of shoe can contribute to bunions if it doesn’t fit your feet properly. If you already have bunions, these types of shoes can irritate the sensitive skin around them and make your bunions worse. 

Once you develop bunions, they can lead to other painful complications, such as:

Treating bunions nonsurgically

If you seek treatment for your bunions early — as soon as you notice pain or see a bump forming — are not severe, you can usually treat them effectively with nonsurgical approaches. 

Bunion pads and sleeves

Bunion pads are soft pads that you can place inside your shoes to prevent your bunion rubbing excessively and irritating your skin. These are usually available over the counter at pharmacies. 

Bunion sleeves are gel or fabric sleeves that separate your big toe from other toes. While they will not be able to correct your bunions, they can help reduce pain and swelling and prevent further complications.

Orthopedic shoes 

Certain types of orthopedic shoes and inserts offer arch support and wider toe room to prevent excess pressure on your sensitive bunions. These can offer pain relief and soothe your discomfort naturally. Even if you don’t need orthopedic shoes, switching to more comfortable shoes with plenty of room for your toes can make a dramatic difference. 


An over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease your pain and stay active. If your discomfort is more severe, you may be prescribed stronger pain medication. 

When do bunions require surgery?

While bunion pain can be managed with nonsurgical options, surgery is the only option to treat your bunions directly. Bunion surgery can help reduce your pain, but might not return your foot to looking the way it did before your bunion formation.

Bunion surgery is usually recommended if your bunion is severe and nonsurgical treatments haven’t been able to effectively manage the pain. Additionally, bunion surgery might be right for you if your bunion is too painful or too large to go about your daily activities. 

If you’re exploring bunion treatments, our podiatry specialists at Preva Surgicare can help reduce your pain and decide if bunion surgery is right for you. To find out more, call our offices at 281-377-3706 or request an appointment online today.

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