Bunion (Hallux Valgus) – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, And Treatment


What is a bunion?
A bunion referred to as hallux valgus in medical terms, is a deformity of the big toe characterized by the big toe tilting toward the second toe. This leads to the appearance of a bump at the base or on the side of the big toe.

Bunions affect more women than men.

What causes a bunion?
Bunions occur as a result of a deformity in the joint of the big toe. What exactly causes this deformity is not known to doctors and researchers.

Bunions can run in families. People born with abnormal bones in their feet are more likely to form a bunion.

Wearing poorly fitting (narrow-toed, high-heeled) shoes may cause the development of a bunion.

Arthritis and other conditions can also lead to the formation of a bunion.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?
The following are the common symptoms of a bunion:

  • A bony bump at the base of the big toe joint.
  • Red, thickened skin on the inside edge at the base of the big toe.
  • Stiffness, swelling, and pain over the joint.
  • Big toe turned toward the second toe.
  • Corns and calluses develop where the first and second toes overlap.
  • Difficulty wearing regular shoes.

How is a bunion diagnosed?
Your doctor can diagnose a bunion by merely looking at it. The doctor may order a foot x-ray to check if there are any joint abnormalities or arthritis.

How is a bunion treated?
Treatment of a bunion includes self-care, pain medication, foot brace, and surgery.

Your doctor may recommend the following self-care measures:

  • Wear wide-toed shoes. Sometimes, this can solve the problem without any treatment.
  • Wear felt or foam pads on your foot to protect the bunion, or devices called spacers to separate the first and second toes.
  • Cut a hole in a pair of old, comfortable shoes and wear around the house.

Your doctor may prescribe medications if pain, swelling, or inflammation is present.

If the self-care measures don’t work, your doctor may recommend bunionectomy (a surgical procedure) to realign the toe and remove the bony bump.

This feature is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute the expert guidance of a doctor. We advise seeing a doctor if you have any health concerns.

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