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A bunion won’t cause osteoarthritis in your big toe but your big toe joint is more prone to osteoarthritis than any other joint in your foot. This is because of the repeated pressure you put on it when you walk. If you already have osteoarthritis in your big toe, you may be more likely to get a bunion. This is because the damaged cartilage can make your big toe lean towards your other toes.
How long it will take to walk after bunion surgery will depend on which operation you’ve had and how you recover. You may be able to walk around a bit the day after your operation. You might need to wear a modified shoe to protect your foot as you recover. You may also need to use some support to help you walk – for example, crutches. It can take up to a year to recover fully.
You can get a bunion on your little toe but this is much less common than a bunion on your big toe. A bunion on your little toe is called a bunionette or a tailor’s bunion. It’s treated in the same way as a bunion on your big toe.
There isn’t one main cause of bunions but several things that can increase your risk of developing one. These include wearing high heels, and being ‘flat-footed’. Bunions can run in families too. And you may be more likely to get a bunion if you have a long-term condition that affects your joints – for example, rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
For more information, see our section on the causes of bunions.
There are lots of ways you can ease the symptoms of a bunion without surgery. These include things like using padding to protect your feet and using shoe inserts. You can also take painkillers to ease pain and swelling from a bunion. But these measures won’t ‘fix’ your bunion. Only surgery can do this.
For more information, see our sections on self-help for bunions and treatment of bunions.
There are exercises you can do each day that may strengthen your muscles and help ease pain and problems walking due to bunions. More research is needed to prove whether or not such exercises help. If you do try the exercises, you can start doing them sitting down in a chair until you’re able to do them standing up and eventually balancing on one leg.
For more information, see our section on self-help for bunions.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
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