What is a bunion?
- A bunion (hallux abducto valgus) is a deformity of the base joint of the big toe. It occurs when your big toe is angled towards the second toe. This causes a bump on the side at the base of the big toe. There is often thickening of the skin and tissues next to the affected joint, which may become inflamed, swollen and painful.
- In most cases it is not clear why a bunion deformity develops. There may be some hereditary (genetic) tendency to have a weakness of this joint. In some cases it is associated with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. A biomechanical problem such as over-pronation can also cause a bunion. Wearing tight or poor fitting shoes are usually not a direct cause of bunions but can aggravate the symptoms.
- Difficulty walking due to pain.
- Inflammation and swelling at the base of the big toe.
- Overlapping of big toe and second toe.
- Difficulty fitting into shoes.
- Padding over the bunion may help to reduce the pain. Wearing proper shoe gears does not cure the deformity but may ease symptoms of pain and discomfort. If over-pronation is the cause, custom orthotic or motion-control shoes can help to reduce excessive pronation, therefore preventing further advancement of the bunion. An operation may be advised when conservative treatment fails.