What is a Bunion (Hallux valgus)? and How do We Treat Them

What is a Bunion (Hallux valgus)?

Bunion pain, hammer toe, and calluses can all be symptoms of bunions or the Tailor Bunion read on for more information, and to better understand what is a bunion

More often Bunions are affectionately referred to as the red swollen bump on the base joint of the big toe, or less affectionately, often referred to as a painful, inflamed boney protrusion at the base of the big or little toe that gets in the way of a pain-free active life.

We determine that “bunions” and Hallux valgus are terms used to describe one of the most common ailments of the foot—especially among women.

normal and bunion images

Normal Feet and Bunion Feet


What is a Bunion

A bunion is a mal-alignment of the two bones that form the base joint of the big toe (also called the metatarsophalangeal joint often called the MTP joint). Due to the misalignment, the big toe begins to angle inward towards the other toes, thrusting the base joint of the big toe out further in the opposite direction.

Aside from being unsightly, bunions can become inflamed with redness, tenderness, and pain. A small fluid-filled sac (bursa) adjacent to the joint can also become inflamed (bursitis), leading to additional swelling, redness, and pain.”

What causes a bunion to develop?

More often it is caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes, pointed toed shoes and/ or high heels . However, genetic faulty foot mechanics are also often the root cause of Hallux valgus.

As the heel strikes the ground when walking, the joints of the foot unlocks and absorb impact. Referred to as pronation, the arch collapses causing the feet to flatten. In some cases this can often lead to Plantar Fasciitis another dreadful and painful foot and heel complaint

This flattening causes excessive tension on the tendon in the upper mid-foot that enables the big toe to bend upward (extensor hallucis tendon).

The tendon contracts which then forces the big toe to be pulled laterally toward the second toe. This is what causes the initial deviation.

Over time there is a backward force placed on the first metatarsal bone by the big toe, and the first metatarsal begins to move away from the second metatarsal bone.

Due to these changes, there is now more pressure on the side of the first metatarsal bone from shoe pressure which causes a thickening of bone and eventually the formation of a bunion deformity.

Symptoms of a Bunion (Hallux valgus):

Early Symptoms of a Bunion or Bunion Causes

  • Movement of the big toe towards the smaller toes
  • Bump on the base joint of the big toe grows and becomes painful.
  • Deep dull “in the joint” pain – bunion pain of the big toe
  • Pain on top or side of the big toe from shoe pressure

Progressive Symptoms of a Bunion

  • Continued mal-positioning of the big toe and base joint
  • Increasing bunion pain when walking, running, or standing
  • Formation of calluses on the outer joint edge of the big toe
  • Chronic irritation of the skin and base joint bursa
  • Progressive arthritic stiffening in the big toe base joint
  • Foot deformities such as hammertoe and claw toe

Can bunions be cured?

The good news is that Hallux valgus is not a disease; therefore, it is not life-threatening. The bad news, a bunion cannot be cured. Rather, a bunion can be corrected with ongoing use of orthotic devices or in some cases reverting to bunion surgery.

One caveat to successfully correcting a bunion is compliance. Whether for pre or post-surgical purposes, frequently wearing a bunion splint to straighten the big toe or maintaining surgical fixation is an ongoing process.
Bunion Treatment

What is the Standard Bunion Treatment

Too often we are asked what is the standard bunion treatment, what causes bunions and more importantly how to get rid of bunions. There are some that suggest that we must initiate bunion removal , this normally involves surgery and to most people that are interested in bunion treatment without surgery. Preferably they require bunion treatment at home rather than a hospital .

Bunion Treatment can vary from bunion callus shaving, to bunion exercises to straighten the toes back to a normal position. Other answers are to wear bunion splints and off course that leads to the question do bunion splints work, and what is the best bunion splint. Do we wear them during the day or simply use bunion night splints.

There are also bunion pads to protect the painful area, and to provide bunion relief. There are also things like bunion toe spacers that separate the toes to allow relief form the pain and to straighten the toes.

Bunion cushions worn in your shoes will also assist, along with bunion massage at night to relieve the pain or even to the point of bunion bootie  type products that can assist in doing the same.

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