A bunion is a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. The medical name is hallux abducto valgus.
The main sign of a bunion is the big toe pointing towards the other toes on the same foot, which may force the foot bone attached to it (the first metatarsal) to stick outwards. This can also happen on the 5th toe referred to as bunionette or tailors bunion.
Other symptoms may include:
- a swollen, bony bump on the outside edge of your foot
- pain and swelling over your big toe joint that’s made worse by pressure from wearing shoes
- hard, callused and red skin caused by your big toe and second toe overlapping
- sore skin over the top of the bunion
- changes to the shape of your foot, making it difficult to find shoes that fit
Anyone can develop a bunion, but they’re more common in women than men. This may be because of the style of footwear that women wear.
What causes bunions?
The exact cause of is unknown, but they tend to run in families. Wearing badly fitting shoes is thought to make bunions worse and it is thought that people with flat feet are more likely to get them. It’s also thought that bunions are more likely to occur in people with unusually flexible joints, which is why bunions sometimes occur in children.
Non-surgical treatments are usually tried first, including painkillers, orthotics (insoles) and bunion pads. However, these can only help to reduce the symptoms of bunions, such as pain. They don’t improve the appearance of your foot and the shape cannot be reversed. Surgery may be considered if your symptoms are severe and don’t respond to non-surgical treatments but this can lead to reduced motion in the joint, altered gait and foot function and in some cases there may still be pain.
The best way to reduce your chances of developing bunions is to wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too tight or have high heels can force your toes together. If you have flat feet or fallen arches David can produce custom made orthotic insoles to improve the function of your foot.