A bunion is a bony bump on the joint of the big toe. It occurs when your big toe pushes against the adjacent toe, causing the joint to stick out. The medical term for this condition is hallux valgus.
Bunions are one of the most common foot problems. They develop over time and are more likely to occur in women than in men. The skin over the bunion may be sore and appear red in colour.
Aside from the big toe, bunions may also grow on the base of your pinky toe, which is known as tailor’s bunion or bunionette.
Aside from the visible lump on the base of your toe, signs and symptoms of a bunion include the following:
Bunions grow when some of the bones in the front part of your foot move out of place, causing your big toe to bend toward your second toe and the joint at the base of your big toe to jut out.
This condition runs in families where people inherit a foot shape or structure (e.g. flat feet, low arches, metatarsal head being too round) that is predisposed to developing bunions. Loose joints and tendons also contribute to the risk.
Wearing shoes that are too tight, too small, or have narrow toe boxes can force your toes to crowd together and increase your risk of bunions. However, this is not an underlying cause.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of bunions include:
If left untreated, bunions can cause several complications that involve inflammation, chronic pain and toe or foot deformity. Some of these complications are: