What is it?
Bunions, or hallux valgus, is a forefoot deformity which manifests as a painful bump at the joint connecting the big toe to the foot. In exaggerated cases, the big toe leans increasingly towards the second toe, and the bump that then forms often rubs against the inside of most footwear. In some cases bunions can lead to secondary problems, such as deformity of the smaller toes, known as hammer toes.
Why does it occur?
Most often there is no underlying cause, but there is some evidence that you can be more prone to them if bunions run in your family. Tight-fitting, high-heeled shoes can sometimes lead to bunions, as can other foot conditions, such as a muscular imbalance as a result of in Polio or Cerebral Palsy, or potentially arthritis.
What are the symptoms?
Pain around the lump near the big toe, making tight-fitting shoes uncomfortable, is the most common symptom. But eventually walking or playing sports can become difficult.
How is it diagnosed?
A thorough medical history and examination, together with x-rays, are usually required to make a diagnosis, and determine the severity of any arthritis that may have developed secondary to a bunion.
How is it treated?
To alleviate symptoms appropriate painkillers and a significant change in footwear, preferably with a supportive insole, will most often be tried first.
Surgery to realign the big toe and remove the bunion may be required. If arthritis has developed within the toe, surgery to fuse the big toe joint may be an option.
Hallux valgus correction
The One Orthopaedics team specialists
Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon FRCS (Tr & Orth)