What is a bunion (hallux valgus)?

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bump that forms at the joint at the base of the big toe. Bunions force the joint to stick out more than normal and may cause redness and soreness. Smaller bunions may occur on the joints of the little toes. 

Bunions are caused by structural defects, wearing too tight of shoes, foot injury, and from conditions such as arthritis.

Symptoms of bunions

The following are common symptoms of bunions in children and adults. If bunions cause persistent pain or difficulty wearing shoes, contact your doctor, podiatrist, or orthopedic specialists.

  • Bulging bump on the outside base of the big toe

  • Swelling, redness, soreness around big toe joint

  • Pain in the bump of big toe

  • Limited movement in the big toe

  • Thickening of the skin at the base of the big toe

Some risk factors that are associated with bunions include wearing high heels, ill-fitting shoes, having rheumatoid arthritis, and heredity.

Diagnosis and treatment of bunions

A physician may diagnose a bunion based on a physical exam of the foot. Tests to confirm the diagnosis include a foot x-ray. The x-ray may also help determine the cause and severity of the bunion. 

Treatment for bunions include non-surgical and surgical approaches. Non-surgical treatments include wearing comfortable shoes, splinting, and shoe inserts. Surgical options may include tissue removal around the big toe, bone removal to put the big toe into the correct position, or permanently joining the bones of the affected joint.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 314.454.5437 or 800.678.5437 or email us.