On Your Toes

Those shoes may match your outfit, but are they good for your feet?

One of the most common foot ailments I see walk though my door are bunions,” explains board-certified podiatric surgeon Robert P. Dunne, DPM. A bunion is an unnatural, bony hump that forms at the base of the big toe where it attaches to the foot. Often, the big toe deviates toward the other toes.

“Sometimes, this particular foot deformity is genetic; other times, it can be related to an injury to the foot or a congenital issue [a deformity present at birth],” explains Dr. Dunne. “Arthritis can play a role, along with improperly fitting shoes and high heels.”

Bunion Symptoms

There are several symptoms to look for when diagnosing bunions.

“A bulging bump could be evident at the base of the big toe,” describes Dr. Dunne. “There may also be some swelling, redness and soreness in the area of the big toe’s joint. Other signs include a thickening of the skin at the base of the big toe, limitation in movement, pain that comes and goes, and corns and calluses developing.”

According to Dr. Dunne, people are intimidated by treatment for bunions because they have heard negative stories regarding surgical correction. “Our patients come first, and we recommend they take action now if they have a problem. Surgery is not the only option. Alternate treatments are available.”

When to See a Doctor

“More often than not, a patient will put off treatment until surgical correction is the only option,” says Dr. Dunne. Here are some of the signs that you should be aware of:

  • Difficulty with movement of the big toe
  • A bump at the side of your big toe
  • Issues with shoes fitting properly
  • Big toe pain that is constant or intermittent
  • The formation of corns or calluses
  • Redness in the area at the bottom of the big toe


Once you make an appointment with your doctor, it is helpful to know what questions to ask, including “What is the cause of my foot pain, and is this a long-term or short-term problem? This is another question to ask: “Is surgery right for me, or is there a conservative treatment that will help?”  These are useful questions to help you make decisions about your care.

“Occasionally, a bunion formation left untreated can cause additional ailments to arise,” warns Dr. Dunne. “These can include bursitis, hammertoe formations and metatarsalgia, which is pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot.”

Treatment Options

“For a bunion, our typical treatment regimen will be determined by the severity of the deformity, along with the individual needs of the patient,” explains Dr. Dunne.

“Again, surgery is not always the only treatment option a patient has. Treatment should be tailored to the patient’s needs.” 

Some conservative treatments include:

  • The application of ice
  • Orthotics (over-the-counter
    or custom-molded)
  • Medications to reduce inflammation
  • Padding and splinting of the area
  • Changes to better-fitting or more-appropriate shoes


Rehabilitation time varies per patient and type of surgical procedure. As always, the patient’s individual needs come first, and treatment should reflect those needs.

Lake Washington Foot & Ankle is a comprehensive podiatric medicine clinic, offering treatment for everything from ankle sprains to hammertoes.

“We treat ingrown toenails, warts, dermatitis, ankle and heel pain, tendonitis and neuromas,” assures Dr. Dunne. “We also do clinical trials for onychomycosis [fungal toenails], as well as studies on diabetic ulcers, in an effort to find better and more effective treatments for these and other ailments.”

Article courtesy of Lake Washington Foot & Ankle Center.
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    • Lake Washington Foot & Ankle

      Dr. Dunne welcomes the opportunity to answer your questions about foot health. For further information or to schedule an appointment, please call (321) 253-6191. His office is located at 2717 N. Wickham Rd., #4, in Melbourne.... Read More

    • Robert P. Dunne, DPM, FACFAS

      Robert P. Dunne, DPM, FACFAS, is a board-certified podiatric surgeon and a Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons. After receiving his degree from Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, he completed a p... Read More

    • Ryan Cantwell, DPM

      Ryan Cantwell, DPM, is a podiatric surgeon who earned his bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of South Florida in 2012 and his medical degree from the California School of Podiatric Medicine in Oakland, CA in 2016. He c... Read More