Written by our Human Movement Specialists
What is a bunion?
Bunions are a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe. They develop when the joint at the base of the big toe becomes misaligned, causing the big toe to lean towards the other toes. This shift in position causes the bone at the base of the big toe to protrude outward, forming a bunion. Bunions can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, wearing tight or narrow shoes, and certain medical conditions such as arthritis. When a similar bump occurs on the baby toe joint these are referred to as bunionettes or tailor's bunions.
Symptoms of bunions
The most common symptom of a bunion is a visible bump at the base of the big toe. Other symptoms may include pain or tenderness in the affected area, swelling, redness, and difficulty moving the big toe. You may also experience pain on the side and top of the joint that worsens with walking or other physical activity. Some people may also experience corns or calluses on the affected foot due to the pressure caused by the bunion. In severe cases, the big toe may even overlap with the second toe.
Risk factors for developing bunions
Bunions can develop due to a variety of factors, including genetics, wearing tight or narrow shoes, and certain medical conditions such as arthritis. Women are also more likely to develop bunions than men, often due to the types of shoes they wear. Additionally, certain activities that put pressure on the ball of your feet, such as ballet or sports that involve running or jumping, can increase the risk of developing bunions.
Non-surgical treatment options for bunions include wearing comfortable shoes with a wide toe box, using bunion pads or cushions to relieve pressure, or wearing a bunion splint to help realign the joint. Additionally, exercises and stretches can help improve the flexibility and strength of the foot muscles, which can alleviate bunion pain. In some cases, custom orthotics are recommended to provide additional support or footwear modifications to expand the area of the shoe surrounding the bunion to relieve pressure and improve comfort. However, if these non-surgical options do not provide relief, surgery may be necessary to correct the bunion.