What Is A Bunion?

What is a bunion?

The big toe normally has a slight angle of <15 degrees.  Bunions are a deformity of the big toe joint >15 degrees.

Many people have no pain from their bunion.  However, some people have debilitating pain.  Up to 70% of people with bunions have a family member affected.  People who are very flexible may find that their mother or grandmother had ‘terrible’ feet.

The medical term for a bunion is Hallux Valgus.

Other symptoms of a bunion

The deformity is the most common symptom of a bunion.  Other symptoms include:

  • Pain, more common when wearing shoes, or walking
  • Red and callused skin caused by the friction from your shoes
  • A swollen bony lump on the inside of your foot
  • Sore skin over the bunion
  • Changes in the shape of your foot

The causes of a bunion

It isn’t really clear why people get bunions. Women are affected up to ten times more than men.  Bunions can also occur in people who have certain health conditions, like gout and rheumatoid arthritis.


It is important that the Doctor or Surgeon who is treating you spends time understanding how the bunion affects you.  Some people have very mild-looking bunions, but severe pain which really gets them down.  Other people can have very severe looking deformities, but little or no pain.

If you are considering surgery, you will need to see an Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon.  X-rays will be needed before the surgery, to understand how your bones function and align.

Most people with painful hallux valgus and moderate/severe deformity (angle > 25 degrees) consider surgery.


What happens if I do nothing?

Bunions will not disappear on their own.  If they do not cause pain some people decide not to have any further treatment.    Bunions can get worse.  Some patients develop arthritis in their big toe, though this is not common.  Painful bunions can really get you down and significantly affect your quality of life.

If you would like to find out more please follow the links below

Best shoes for wide feet


Minimally Invasive Surgery for bunions


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