A bunion (hallux valgus) is a painful, bony protuberance on the joint at the base and side of the big toe. It may look like an enlarged bump but is actually a bone deformity.

The protuberance causes friction and pressure as the bunion rubs against footwear. Over time, the big toe may angle inward toward the other toes, sometimes overlapping a third toe. Bunions can also lead to other toe deformities, such as hammertoe.

Wearing shoes that are too tight is the leading cause of bunions. The most common symptom is the visible bump. Other symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Redness and inflammation of the skin over the toe
  • Thickened skin on the bottom of the foot
  • A callus or corn on the bump
  • Stiffness and restricted motion in the big toe, leading to difficulty with walking

Because they are bone deformities, bunions do not resolve by themselves. The foot and ankle team at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will usually recommend conservative measures to help reduce the pain and keep the bunion from getting larger.

Those conservative measures typically include protective padding to eliminate friction, changes in footwear, removal of corns and calluses on the foot, and orthotics to help stabilize the joint and place the foot in the correct position for walking and standing.

Depending on the size of the enlargement, misalignment of the toe, and pain, conservative treatments may not adequately prevent progressive damage from Hallux Valgus, and surgery may be recommended to remove the bunion and realign the toe.