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Bunion Specialist

Joseph Stern, DPM

Podiatrist & Podiatric Surgeon located in San Francisco, CA

Bunions cause pain, blisters, and plenty of problems finding shoes that fit comfortably. As a top-rated podiatrist in San Francisco, CA, Dr. Joseph Stern is skilled in advanced bunion treatment techniques as well as techniques to prevent their recurrence, so patients can feel confident in their care every step of the way.

Bunion Q&A

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony protuberance that extends or “sticks out” from the side of the foot at the base of the big toe where the joint is located. The bunion forms when the top portion of the toe is pushed inward toward the other toes, forcing the joint out of alignment. Without treatment, the joint can become more deformed and eventually, the big toe can cross over the neighboring toes, making it extremely difficult to find shoes that fit in addition to causing very painful symptoms. Corns, calluses, and blisters frequently form as a result of friction against the side of the bunion and, in time, the joint will become stiff and permanently deformed.

What causes bunions?

Bunions may be caused by repeated and long-term wear of shoes that are very tight in the toe area, including high heels and narrow shoes that squeeze the toes and push the top of the big toe inward. Often, bunions are caused by an inherited foot shape or gait pattern, and people who have family members with bunions are sometimes more likely to develop bunions as well. Bunions may also form as a result of arthritis, but they can also cause the toe joint to become arthritic. They can also form in young people as the foot grows and widens and normal footwear becomes too tight and binding.

How are bunions treated?

That depends on different factors, including whether the toe joint has stiffened or if it’s still flexible. If the joint is flexible, gentle stretching and massage can help prevent arthritis and permanent deformity while special splints can be worn to help gently move the joint into its proper position. Custom orthotics can also play a role in bunion treatment. When the joint has stiffened or does not respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be needed to reposition the joint and hold it in place using tiny pins or screws. Some of the bone may also be removed to enable the joint to resume its normal position. A surgical boot worn following surgery will provide stability to the joint during healing.


Please note that this is not a complete list of our contracted insurance carriers. If your provider is not listed, please contact us. We also encourage you to contact your insurance carrier to confirm coverage.

United Healthcare