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All About Bunions

All About Bunions

John Zhong from Body & Soul Medical Clinics explains how treat and prevent the bunions can help you live a healthier lifestyle.

What is a bunion?

An outgrowth (bony bump) on the ball of one’s foot. It can be either at the ball of your big toe (known as a bunion) or small toe (called a bunionette).

Why does one get a bunion?

There are many theories about how bunions develop, but the exact cause is unknown. The following are risk factors:

  1. constantly wearing tight and narrow shoes (high heels, especially)
  2. changes related to your foot structure and functioning (for example, flat feet can lead to a bunion due to the biomechanical changes at the big toe)
  3. the shape of your foot can also be a factor (there are many variations that may make some people more prone to bunions—for example, some people may have a longer big toe while others don’t)
  4. a foot deformity or a medical condition, such as arthritis
  5. heredity

Is there anything one can do to prevent bunions?

Yes, the most important thing is picking a pair of shoes that fit you. A proper fit includes length, width, and stability. Shoes that are too small or narrow and high heels can make this issue worse. You can also get a specialist to check your lower body biomechanics if you have some symptoms or if bunions run in your family. Early intervention can offer the best treatment results.

When should one be concerned about bunions?

You should see a specialist if you have: constant big toe pain, a visible bump on your toe joint, limited movement of your big toe or pain with movement, or your foot is always rubbing the side of your shoe no matter how wide the shoe is.

Are there treatments for bunions? What are the pros and cons of different options?

There are conservative and surgical treatment options.

Conservative treatment aims to relieve the pain and pressure of a bunion. Changing shoes, using orthotics, and taking some medications can help. This approach is not invasive but may take a longer time for controlling the symptoms.

Surgical treatment should only be given when the issue causes you frequent pain or interferes with your daily activities and conservative treatment brings no symptom relief. Surgery will require a couple of months to heal. Though the problem will be fully resolved, patients still need to take care of the feet to prevent reoccurrence.

John Zhong


Specialized in sports medicine and athletic training, John excels at injury prevention, sports injury rehabilitation and treatment, especially for athletes. He also designs training plans to enhance performance and physical conditioning and teaches how to train safely and prevent injuries. Complementing his approach to boost the patient’s physical performances, he educates patients about fitness and nutrition goals as well. He works at both our Xintiandi clinic and Minhang clinic. Click here to make an appointment with him.