A bunion is a painful lump that can develop on the side of your foot and affect how you walk. Wearing ill-fitting shoes can contribute to bunions forming because they put a strain on the bones and muscles in your feet. Bunions are the most common forefoot problem in adults and are much more common in women than men.
The first sign that a bunion is developing is when your big toe starts to point towards your second toe.
Doctors may use the medical term ‘hallux valgus’ to describe the turning of your big toe combined with a bunion. ‘Hallux’ means your big toe. ‘Valgus’ means that it’s pointing towards the other toes on that foot. As your big toe bends towards the other toes, the bone at its base gets pushed out to the side. It then sticks out and rubs on your shoe.
Symptoms of Bunions
Some people gets symptoms from bunions, such as:
- pain in your big toe joint
- a swollen big toe
These symptoms can make it difficult to walk and lead to pain in the ball of your foot. You might also find that your shoes don’t fit properly.
Sometimes, the skin over the bunion can become red, blistered or infected because it has been rubbing against your shoe. A fluid-filled space called a bursa may also develop under your skin. This can be painful if it swells up (bursitis).
Diagnosis of Bunions
Your doctor will examine your feet.
You may have blood tests to rule out other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.
If you need to have surgery, you might need to get an X-ray. The X-ray is taken to see the severity of your deformity.
Treatment of bunions
Taking painkillers may help to ease the symptoms of a bunion. But they won’t always stop your bunion from getting worse. If you have severe pain from a bunion, you might need to have an bunion surgery to correct it.
If you’ve tried all the non-surgical treatments but they haven’t helped, you may want to think about surgery.
Surgery to correct a bunion is called a bunionectomy. An operation won’t return your foot to normal but most people find it reduces their symptoms and improves the shape of their foot.
The type of operation you have will depend on how severe your bunion is.
Causes of bunions
The exact cause of bunions is unknown, but things that can increase your risk of developing them include the following.
- Bunions can run in families, but just because your parents or grandparents have bunions doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily develop them too.
- The type of shoes you wear may affect whether or not you get a bunion. Narrow or high-heeled shoes can put extra strain on the bones and muscles in your foot and push your toes together.
- You’re much more likely to get bunions if you’re a woman. This may be from wearing tighter footwear and high heels, or because the ligaments in your feet (the structures that connect bones together) are looser in women.
- Bunions are sometimes associated with conditions that affect your joints, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Other health conditions that are associated with bunions include gout, stroke or a foot injury.