A bunion or Hallux abductovalgus (HAV) is a large bump on the
side of the big toe. This bump is caused by the misalignment of the bones causing the big toe to
point towards the other toes.
It’s common to find the big toe overlapping or resting under the second toe. Misalignment of the bones is usually followed with arthritic changes within the joint causing pain and discomfort.
Bunions are present in both men and women. However, there is a
higher prevalence of bunions in females since this condition is often the result of wearing high heel shoes with a tapered toe box. Bunions are not inherited but they do tend to run in families. Research indicates that bunions are more common in people with flat feet, which can lead to instability around the big toe joint causing the medial displacement of the first metatarsal bone. This can lead to the abduction of the big toe (hallux), resulting in the big toe pressing against the second toe.
What are the signs and symptoms?
• Pain, mild to extreme, redness, throbbing
• Stiffness of the first joint due to arthritic changes within the joint
• Turning of the big toe towards the second toe
• Development of hammer and claw toes and other soft tissue lesions (callus, corns, bursa, ingrown nails, etc.)
The diagnosis of HAV (bunion) should be confirmed by a chiropodist/podiatrist or a
family physician. Bunions are a progressive condition. If the progression is not stopped, it
could get worse over time. It may also alter the way you walk causing more problems within the foot and within the kinetic chain. There
are ways to prevent a bunion from
getting to a painful stage, which include wearing custom orthotics in properly-fitted shoes,
padding the joint, or prescribing certain medications to reduce the pain
If everything else fails and the pain is affecting your everyday life, surgery may be considered. Keep in mind that surgery is not without
risks and should not be considered just for cosmetic purposes.
To reduce your chance of developing bunions, wear wide comfortable shoes, get custom orthotics if you have fallen
arches and see a chiropodist/podiatrist if you have any concerns about your feet.