The medical terms for bunions are hallux abducto valgus or just hallux valgus. It is a common foot problem, especially among women. It involves having a large bump on the inner aspect of the foot at the site of the connection between the big toe and the foot itself. The bump is actually the base of the big toe which sticks out because the great toe is pushed over toward the second toe rather than pointing in its proper position. Just the big toe can be out of alignment or the some of the other toes can be pointed outward as well.

Bunions don’t happen overnight. The big toe begins to lean toward the second toe first and then the other toes follow suit. The bump happens when the big toe falls out of alignment, its proximal end not properly aligned in the joint socket.

Causes of Bunions

Most people who have bunions have a hereditary propensity for the problem. They inherit a type of foot that is more prone to getting a bunion, especially when wearing shoes that are too tight and crowd the toes together. Tight shoes alone don’t cause bunions in everyone but, if you’re prone to getting bunions, tight shoes will make the problem worse.

Symptoms of a Bunion

The main bunion symptoms are located at the site of the bunion itself. These include the following:

  • Redness and inflammation at the site of the bunion.
  • Soreness or pain, especially when wearing tight shoes.
  • Burning at the site of the bunion.
  • Numbness of the great toe or over the site of the bunion.

Your symptoms will be worse if the shoes are too tight or if you are wearing high heels. Because high heels are the culprit in many situations, this is why women tend to get bunions more often than men. If you are on your feet much of the day, the bunion symptoms will be worse.

Diagnosis of Bunions

Bunions can be diagnosed by appearance alone. The bump is usually seen at the base of the great toe or further up on the side of the foot. A physical exam may be all that is necessary; however, sometimes the foot podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon will do an x-ray of the foot to see what the bones look like or to see if the situation has progressed.

Bunions are considered a progressive condition, meaning that you can start out with a small bump that gradually gets bigger over time. The toes progressively move out of alignment so they are pointing outwards in severe cases.

Treatment of Bunions

Bunions can be treated with or without surgery. If you have no symptoms, no treatment may be necessary. The podiatrist may simply follow the condition, doing x-rays every so often to see if it has progressed.

Other non-surgical treatment can include the following:

  • Change your shoes. Instead of wearing tight high heels, you will need to buy shoes that are flatter and that are wider to accommodate the bump and keep the pressure off the joint.
  • Put padding over the bunion. This can relieve the pain. You can buy bunion padding at the pharmacy or get them from the podiatrist.
  • Stay off your feet. Because standing for a long time can make the condition worse, the podiatrist might recommend that you sit more so there is less pressure on the affected joints.
  • Over the counter medicine. This can include taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as naproxen sodium or ibuprofen, which ease inflammation and lessen the pain.
  • Apply an ice pack. Ice packs applied to the bunion, especially when you are in pain, will decrease the pain and inflammation of the bunion so you can get back on your feet again.
  • Corticosteroid injections. This is not often done but if the bursa is inflamed (the sac of fluid near the joint), corticosteroids will be used to shrink the swelling and inflammation of the bursa.
  • These are custom fit devices that support and protect the bunion and surrounding foot.

Surgery is sometimes recommended if the non-surgical treatments don’t effectively relieve the pain. There are different types of surgery that can be done but the idea is to remove the bump and align the toes in the proper alignment. The foot will look better, fit better in shoes, and the pain will be reduced.

Other Foot Conditions & Symptoms

Ankle Sprains

Most ankle sprains come from accidently inverting the foot. When you invert the foot, you twist the ankle inward, landing on the outside bone of the ankle. This causes tearing and stretching of the...

read more

Cavus Foot

Having a cavus foot basically means you are a person with very high arches. Rather than putting pressure on the whole of the foot, the pressure of standing and walking is placed on the ball of the...

read more

Corns and Calluses

Corns and calluses are thickened and hard areas of skin that happen when the skin protects itself against the pressure and friction of shoes or the ground. While they can look ugly, they are not...

read more

Diabetic Foot

If you suffer from diabetes mellitus (type 1 or type 2), this means your blood sugar is too high over much of the time. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and nerves, starting with the...

read more

Flat Feet

The medical term for “flat feet” is “pes planus” or sometimes we just call them “fallen arches. You are considered to have flat feet when the arches that give the foot its characteristic shape are...

read more

Heel Pain

The heel is designed to take a lot of stress. It is padded with thick skin and fat so you can pound the pavement or do sports activities without pain. If you do these things to excess, however, you...

read more

Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Iliotibial Band Syndrome is also referred to as ITBS. It is a common overuse injury that runner’s incur by running too much. The syndrome happens when the ligament running from the outer portion of...

read more

Ingrown Nails

Onychocryptosis is the technical term for an ingrown toenail, this is an often painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. This condition has...

read more

Ingrown Toe Nails

The medical term for ingrown toe nail is onychocryptosis. Ingrown toenails usually affect the great toe. Usually only one toe is affected but some people can have ingrown toenails on both feet. They...

read more

Knee Pain

The knee joint takes a great deal of your weight when you are walking so it is especially prone to becoming painful or being injured. You can suffer from acute knee pain because of a car accident, a...

read more


Metatarsalgia is the general medical term for having inflammation and pain in the ball of the foot. It isn’t a disease in and of itself but is a symptom of other problems going on with the foot. The...

read more

Morton’s Neuromas

A Morton’s neuroma stems from having excess pressure on the nerves of your foot, usually from wearing shoes that are too tight. It is actually a small ball of nerve bundles that have formed a benign...

read more

Peroneal Tendonitis

Training smarter helps to boost performance and reduce the risk of injuries. As athletes we’re more predisposed to injuries – it comes with the territory especially when continue to push ourselves...

read more

Pigeon Toe Gait

A pigeon toe gait goes by many different medical names including intoeing, metatarsus adductus, metatarsus varus, and false club foot. These are all just fancy terms to describe a person who has...

read more


Scoliosis usually means you have curvature of the spine that goes in a lateral direction. The curvature is usually in the thoracic and lumbar spine and can lead to chronic back pain, an obvious...

read more

Shin Splints

Shin splints are a common name for tibial stress syndrome, which results in pain in the shin bone or tibia of the lower leg. The tibia is the main bone that takes the stress of the lower leg when...

read more

Verrucas Plantar Warts

Verruca (or plantar warts) are a contagious, viral, and usually painful wart on the sole of the foot. The Foot Practice sees many patients who are frustrated with the condition, having tried all...

read more