Podiatrists Explain the Symptoms and Causes of Bunions

Podiatrists Explain the Symptoms and Causes of Bunions


Podiatric problems are always a big issue because you need your feet to take you where you need to go. A bunion can make wearing shoes impossible for some. It’s part of a progressive bone disorder that starts at the base of the big toe.

The large, bony bump is hard to ignore, and when putting on your socks and shoes, bunion pain can be unbearable. It will only get worse if not treated, and it can cause problems with neighboring toes too. The medical term for a bunion is a hallux valgus.

The boney structure forms at the MTP joint or the metatarsophalangeal. It’s a structural problem that messes with the integrity of the foot. When this joint is out of alignment, then the entire foot won’t line up correctly.

The bunion is on the first toe, and it will push into the second toe, making it crooked. The joint will stick out and make walking painful.


The Causes of Bunions

Bunions develop primarily in adults, but in some rare instances, they will appear in younger children. If a juvenile has an issue with these bone growths, it’s due to a hereditary condition. It’s possible to have hallus valgus from birth but never get an actual bunion.


As your shoes become crowded, the misalignment of the toes will increase the risk of developing this bony structure. However, crowded toes won’t directly be the cause of your bunion.

It’s rare, but a bunion can also form at the base of the small toe rather than the large toe. When this happens, they are referred to as a tailor’s bunion. The medical term is a bunionette.

It’s believed that genetics play a part in the development of bunions, but there can be other factors that come into play. Here is a list of other possible causes:

•Injuries to the foot or toe

•A big toe bone that moves around a lot

•Rheumatoid or different types of arthritis

•Medical issues that affect muscles and nerves

•Feet that haven’t developed properly from birth

•Wearing high-heeled shoes

Having this boney growth on the side of your toe is not that uncommon. It’s estimated that half of all adults will get them and around two percent of children under the age of ten. Though developing bunions in the younger generation is rare, if they are going to occur, it’s almost always between 10-15 years of age.

The toe should move up and down and all around, but the boney growth restricts movement.

Symptoms of Bunions

A bunion is not hard to diagnose as it’s a large bump that sits on the side of the toe. The lump causes the other toes to shift to accommodate for the nodule. Here are some other symptoms of bunions:

•Foot pain


•Tingling or burning sensations

•Swelling on the big toe

•Thicker than average skin on the toe with the bunion

•Calluses on the underside of the foot



•Restriction in movement on the affected toe

•Can’t wear certain shoes, especially high heels

•May start as a small corn-like lump, but it gets bigger over time

•Walking can be difficult and painful

athlete's foot

Common Complications

Unfortunately, having this boney cyst on the side of your foot can cause all sorts of complications. The following issues have been reported:

•Bursitis – inflammation in the fluid-filled pads that provide cushion to muscles and tendons

•Hammertoe – the joint bends from the pressure of the big toe on other toes

•Metatarsalgia – foot pain that occurs on the ball of the feet



•Foot Pain

•Trouble walking or the inability to walk from pain


•Toe restriction

If it hurts to put on your shoes, try wearing something like crocs or flip flops that are open or have a full top. It will relieve some of the pressure that is on your foot. However, the only way to correct this problem is to remove the boney growth from the toe.

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