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Bothered by bunions? Get advice from an expert – our Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr John McKinley answers some of the most common questions we get asked at The Edinburgh Clinic.


Mr McKinley has been a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh since 2007. He was the first consultant in Scotland to be appointed primarily as a foot and ankle surgeon, and one of the first surgeons in Scotland to perform minimally invasive bunion surgery.

Mr McKinley took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of the questions we are often asked about bunions:

How would I know if I had a bunion?

“Well, a bunion is a term we use to describe a bump at the joint where the big toe joins the main part of your foot. So if you do have a bunion, that’s where you will see a prominence.

“Most people also find that there’s pain when the bump rubs on the inside of their shoes. If you’re experiencing this, it’s worth having it examined professionally to check if it is a bunion.

“Bunions can also lead to other problems in the forefoot, especially issues such as hammer toes and pain in the ball of the foot – in fact, this is often the problem that makes the patient come for advice in the first place.”

Do a lot of people get bunions?

“Oh yes, bunions are very common, and particularly so in women. Sometimes bunions can be one of the effects of arthritis, but most often bunions are caused by a change in the position of the bone in your big toe.”

What are some of the best ways to avoid getting bunions?

“Unfortunately, most bunions are inherited to some extent, but they can also can be made worse by wearing ill-fitting shoes.

“To minimise the chances of developing bunions, it’s important to wear shoes that are comfortable and do not cause rubbing on the bump. Insoles can also be helpful in some people to take some of the pressure off the bump.”

What sort of treatment is possible for people who have bunions?

“Most people with bunions will try footwear modifications, insoles, splints and padding. However if these approaches don’t help then surgery is often an effective option.”

Have you done a lot of bunion surgery?

“I have been a consultant for more than 10 years, so have done hundreds of bunion operations.

“There are several operations depending on the type of bunion, which can range from shaving off a piece of bone, realigning the bone, fusing two bones together to joint replacements. Some of these can be done using keyhole surgery.”

Does bunion surgery hurt?

“Although bunion surgery used to be very painful, nowadays most patients are surprised at how little it hurts. This is due to a combination of improvements in the surgical techniques available and the quality of anaesthetist care.”

What can patients at The Edinburgh Clinic expect when they visit you for help with their bunions?

“Patients will first receive an expert examination in order to fully consider the bunion itself and the rest of their foot and ankle. This examination enables us to properly assess the type of bunion and how it is affecting the rest of the foot.

“If surgery is recommended for their bunion, they will have usually need an x-ray to clarify which type of operation would be the best one for them.

“At the Edinburgh Clinic we can perform this operation at the same time as their examination, saving the patient time waiting and helping get the process off to a smooth start.”

If you think bunion examination or surgery at The Edinburgh Clinic could help you, and wish to discuss it further, get in touch with us by calling 0131 447 2340 or use our enquiry form.

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