The underlying cause is a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. The deformity is called hallux valgus. In this deformity the joint develops a prominent sideways angle. Due to this deformity the bones of the big toe are pushed towards the smaller toes.
What symptoms and problems are caused by bunions?
Pain. You may then have difficulty walking due to pain.
Inflammation and swelling at the base of the toe. This sometimes becomes infected.
The foot may become so wide that it can be difficult to find wide enough shoes.
You may get arthritis in the big toe.
The second toe can become deformed.
In severe cases, the big toe can push your second toe up out of place.
What is the treatment for bunions?
Good footwear is often all that is needed
Wearing good footwear does not cure the deformity but may ease symptoms of pain and discomfort. Ideally, get advice about footwear from a podiatrist or chiropodist.
Advice may include:
Wear shoes, trainers or slippers that fit well and are roomy.
Don't wear high-heeled, pointed or tight shoes.
You might find that shoes with laces or straps are best, as they can be adjusted to the width of your foot.
Padding over the bunion may help, as may ice packs.
Devices which help to straighten the toe (orthoses) are still occasionally recommended, although trials investigating their use have not found them much better than no treatment at all.
Medication Painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may ease any pain. If the bunion develops as part of an arthritis then other medication may be advised. A course of antibiotics may be needed if the skin and tissues over the deformity become infected.
Surgery An operation may be advised if a change of footwear does not ease symptoms. The aim of the operation is to straighten the joint as much as possible and relieve pain. It is not usually done just to improve appearance. It can be done using a local or a general anaesthetic and you are usually