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Can You Feel a Bunion Before Seeing It?

Bunions are common foot deformities that occur at the base of your big toe, causing the joint to jut outward and your big toe to turn inward toward your other toes. They can cause a lot of pain and even affect your mobility as the bunion develops. 

When you have a bunion, you can usually tell because of the big bony lump that’s at the base of your toe. However, some signs can point to the fact that a bunion is beginning to form. This can help you start treatment early and keep the bunion from becoming severe.

At Manhattan Orthopedics, our team of orthopedic specialists understands how painful and potentially debilitating a bunion can be for you. Because of that, we want to discuss how to know you have a bunion forming, so you can take the proper steps to care for it.

Early symptoms of bunions

Bunions can’t be prevented altogether since experts aren’t quite sure what exactly causes them. Some people may just have a foot type that’s more predisposed to bunions, but others may have a walking gait that brings on bunions or wear certain shoes that exacerbate your big toe joint.

Because you can’t always prevent bunions, these are some symptoms of early bunion formation to help you catch them early:

Bunion pain is going to feel different for everyone. You might have mild pain at the beginning, or it could come on severely. The pain may be worse at night or radiate throughout your foot as you walk on it during the day. 

Bunion intervention

If you notice some of these early bunion symptoms, these are some treatment options you can try on your own at home:


To reduce swelling and inflammation, try elevating your feet, icing your affected toe, soaking your feet in warm water, or taking over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen. You may also want to try stretching your foot to keep it from becoming stiff.

Shoe inserts

Padding your bunion from the outside or forcing your toes into a more natural position can help to relieve some pain. You can buy bunion pads at your local drugstore and place them on the outside of the bunion when you put on shoes to keep it from becoming irritated. Toe separators can keep your toes from rubbing against each other and forming calluses. 

Proper footwear

Even if your shoes don’t have a narrow toe box, you still might not be wearing the correct shoes for your foot size, alignment, and arch. If you take a trip to your local running shoe store, they can give you a complete foot evaluation to help you choose the correct type of footwear. 

When in doubt, make sure your shoes have plenty of room in the toe box, are made of a malleable material, and have a moderately flexible sole that isn’t too hard or flimsy.

Next steps

If you do have an advanced bunion that requires expert orthopedic care, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at one of our locations in Astoria, Brooklyn, or Manhattan, New York, for treatment. You can set up an appointment over the phone or online today.

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