Common Foot Problems: Bunions/Bunionette

Bunion X-ray

A bunion is an unsightly bump at the base of the big toe. Because bunions don’t fit most shoes, the skin in the area can become irritated and swollen.  Bunions, hammer toes, and metatarsalgia often appear together. Although bunions tend to be hereditary, wearing shoes with too narrow a forefoot or too high a heel can bring bunions on years sooner. Sometimes bunions develop with arthritis.

Self-care begins with wearing shoes that have a low heel and don’t cramp your bunion. You may be able to have shoes stretched to fit a bunion.  If your symptoms don’t improve, see a foot specialist.

Doctor’s care may start with recommendations about specific changes to your regular shoes, such as wearing shoes with a wider forefoot or using devices such as pads. If these measures fail, you might consider surgery.

Surgery involves realigning the big toe. Part of the first metatarsal bone may be removed or reconstructed. A wire may hold the new alignment. You may have a walking boot or surgical shoe.


Bunionette is like a bunion, but occurs at the base of the little toe. Treatment may include wearing shoes with a wider fore-foot.

Surgery involves the removal of the bony prominence.

What Orthopedic Institute offers with pedorthic care:

  • Custom Orthotics
  • Running/Walking Analysis
  • Shoe Recommendations
  • Diabetic Foot Care
  • Amputee Foot/Toe Filler
  • Custom Bracing/ AFO
  • Shoe Modifications
  • External/Internal Heel Lifts

Dr. Watson specializes in foot and ankle medicine, and also general orthopedics.  He completed his fellowship in foot and ankle surgery at GIKK in Omaha and the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Reid Herrboldt, MS, ATC, CPED

Our pedorthist, Reid Herrboldt, has many years of field experience and specializes in diabetic care, athletics, and pediatric care for orthotics and bracing.

To make an appointment to see one of our specialists please call 605.331.5890 or 888.331.5890 E-mail: