Foot bunion (hallux valgus)

Updated on 25 March 2023

Foot bunion (hallux valgus)

Is it difficult to walk on your foot because of a deformity in the big toe area? Is your big toe extending from the base due to the same deformity? Do you have pain and inflammation in your joints?

If this is the case, consult a podiatrist right away because you most likely have a bunion (hallux valgus).

Foot bunion symptoms

Don’t be deceived if the bunion appears to be painless at first.

Hallux valgus can produce a variety of unpleasant symptoms, ranging from minor aches and pains to ingrown toenails and mobility issues.

Here’s a rundown of the signs and symptoms of a bunion:

  • The appearance of a hump at the base of the big toe caused by a common joint displacement
  • Beginning of the displacement of the big toe towards the 2nd toe
  • Appearance of joint stiffness and pain when moving straight
  • Having trouble putting on shoes (widening of the forefoot)
  • Second toe deforms and becomes clawed or hammered
  • Joint pain (arthrosis)
  • Bursitis
  • Calluses (on the second toe and sole of the foot)
  • Ingrown toenails

Complications that may occur

While foot bunions are normally straightforward to treat if found early, if not treated properly, they can develop to more significant symptoms.

The following is a list of issues that can arise as a result of a bunion:

  • Hallux limitus and then hallux rigidus
  • Disarticulation of the second toe
  • Infections of the skin caused by calluses
  • Changes in posture as a result of muscular compensation

What causes a bunion

There are several causes of a bunion. These may include family history, improper footwear, age, etc. 

Below are some of the causes often seen in the office by podiatrists.

  • Flat foot
  • Hereditary factors
  • Wearing shoes that are too narrow
  • Big toe too long (Egyptian foot)
  • Ligament hyperlaxity (ligaments more flexible than normal)
  • Hypermobile cavus foot (foot with a high arch, but which collapses when walking)
  • Pregnancy or menopause, which can lead to foot collapse and forefoot widening
  • Certain mechanical factors such as hyperpronation, hypermobility of the foot, a raised or low plantar arch

How to avoid foot bunions

It is critical to look after your feet on a daily basis.

This is the most effective approach to avoid foot bunions. Of course, if you already have a podiatric problem that makes you susceptible to foot bunion, you need to be extra cautious.

  • Purchase adapted shoes: choose shoes that leave enough space for your toes to move. Don’t wear shoes with pointed toes that compress your foot.
  • Have your feet evaluated by a podiatrist: as soon as you notice a deviation or feel the symptoms of a bunion, don’t delay and consult a podiatrist.
  • Act quickly: if a foot bunion runs in your family, be vigilant. Do not wait until your bunion has reached an advanced stage.

Protecting your bunion

Advanced foot bunions cannot be removed without surgery.

The toe should be protected if the inflammation is under control and the podiatrist does not believe it is necessary to remove it.

To help protect the foot, there are numerous over-the-counter solutions available:

  • The single or multiple toe separator: the use of such a device depends on the degree of deformity present. It prevents the deformed toe from impinging on the adjacent toes and reduces the likelihood of injury.
  • The gel cushioned protector: placed on the problematic toe, it helps reduce friction and the load exerted by the shoe on the foot. This protective pad is often made of silicone.

Treatments for bunion foot pain

Bunions in the feet can be treated in a more gentle manner. Of course, it’s critical to ensure that basic podiatric health issues are addressed.

With the following suggestions, this can sometimes work:

  • Wearing footwear that is appropriate for the size of the foot and activity
  • Exercise prescribed by your podiatrist on a regular basis
  • Manual foot therapy
  • Applying ice and taking anti-inflammatory medication

Bunion treatment by a podiatrist

When the above-mentioned treatment methods fail to relieve your foot bunion, you should seek the advice of a podiatrist.

He or she will be able to advise you on several therapies for hallux valgus:

If less invasive treatment options fail, the podiatrist may recommend bunion surgery to relieve the patient’s discomfort.

Surgical treatments for foot bunion

Foot surgery is a last resort treatment for hallux valgus.

When all conservative options have been exhausted, the podiatrist may suggest a more invasive procedure.

The following are the different procedures that the podiatrist is qualified to suggest:

Toe surgery: This involves straightening the toe using a bone angulation technique. This type of surgery is used when there is significant friction between the deformed toe and the adjacent toe.

Metatarsal head surgery: This surgical technique allows for the treatment of a foot bunion at an earlier stage. 

Metatarsal base surgery: This procedure is resorted to when the hallux valgus is in a late stage. The metatarsal base procedure also addresses abnormally flexible or children’s feet.

Complex surgery: Used only in severe cases, complex surgery addresses multiple deformities and sometimes requires direct action on the toe joints.

FootNetwork – Learn more

Are you interested in learning more about hallux valgus? We provide information on the subject on a regular basis!

However, while the FootNetwork site has a lot of info about foot problems like hallux valgus, it is not a replacement for seeing a podiatrist.

Take care of your feet, they’re precious!

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