Your Bunion Information Guide

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a prominance or bony malalignment of the first and/or fifth toe joints.


If this prominance occurs at the base of the first toe it is called a "Hallux Abducto Valgus" deformity or Hallux Valgus. This is where the first toe is angulated away from the midline of the body toward the smaller toes.

One which forms around the base of the fifth toe is commonly called a "Tailors bunion" .

What causes a bunion to develop?

The cause of bunions arises from the inability of the first or fifth toe joints to function as they normally should. This incorrect foot function may be the result of:

  • Abnormal foot mechanics which can cause the foot to roll in excessively, thereby rendering the first or fifth toe joints unstable and predisposing the foot to the development of bunions.
  • Impaired nerve stimulation of the foot and lower leg muscles.
  • Inflammatory disease. (e.g. Rheumatoid Arthritis).
  • Surgical removal of the cartilage under the big toe joint.
  • Inherited flexion deformities of the fifth metatarsal bone and toes. Symptoms experienced will vary from person to person. They commonly include pain, swelling and redness around the joints affected. Not all deformities will become painful, whereas in some people, certain arthritic conditions can cause severe bunion pain. Ill-fitting shoes (i.e. too narrow or excessively tight) DO NOT cause bunions, but they can aggravate and irritate the skin and can certainly hasten their onset if one is predisposed to its formation.
  • How is a bunion treated?

    Treatment involves a combined approach of many factors including:

    1. Strengthening exercises of specific foot muscles.

    2. Stretching of specific muscles, sometimes with the aid of a bunion splint is also helpful.

    3. Footwear analysis is very important.

    4. Joint mobilization may be utilized in some situations.

    5. Orthoses are used to assist in realigning the feet into a better functioning position and help to prevent the excessive abnormal movement through the feet.

    6. Bunion surgery may be advised if conservative treatment fails to provide satisfactory treatment results. Surgery can be beneficial when conservative measures fail to provide sufficient relief, however there are risks involved. Surgical options should be discussed with your Podiatrist following thorough examination.

    WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.

    For further information on "bunion treatment" visit... More bunion and foot pain information

    Still unsure about your problem? Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.

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