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Bunions (Hallux Valgus)

Bunion refers to the bony bump development on the joint at base of the big toe. Usually, it develops at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint when the big toe is pushed in towards the rest of the toes. As a result, the joint of the base of big toe sticks out. The skin over it appears sore and red. 

By Able Health I Medically reviewed by Dr. Alireza Estedlal

Page last reviewed: February 2024 I Next review due: February 2026

How common are bunions?

Bunions are quite common. According to experts, 30% of the people in the UK are suffering with bunions of some degree.


Bunions may present with the following symptoms:

  • Bulging bump at the base of big toe
  • Stiffness and pain in the big toe
  • Redness and discolouration of the big toe joint
  • Swelling of the big toe
  • Calluses or corns
  • Big toe faces the direction of the other toes
  • Numbness


The common causes of bunions are:

  • Putting on pointed or narrow shoes which squash the toes
  • Foot injuries
  • Genetic factors
  • Health conditions leading to inflammations like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Standing or working on your feet for long periods

Risk factors

Regardless the age, it can happen to anyone. However, some people are at more risk to develop Bunions. These include:

  • Women are at a higher likelihood of bunions
  • People with parents who have had bunions
  • People with a history of foot injuries
  • Those who put regularly wear high heels or ill-fitting shoes
  • Those with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Can Bunions go way naturally?

Bunions need proper treatment to fix and will never go away on their own. If you develop bunions, it is better to consult a GP or podiatrist. Proper diagnosis and prompt treatmentwill enable you to manage the symptoms in the most effective way possible.


Generally, the diagnosis involves physical exam. On visiting the doctor or podiatrist, they will check your feet and ask about your symptoms. Occasionally, foot X-rays of the feet may need to be carried out to examine the bone alignment of the toes and the condition of the MTP joint.

Treatment options

There are a wide range of treatment options available. These include:

  • Footwear changes- Wear wide shoes with space to move your toes
  • Bunion taping and pads- Over the counter bunion pads can cushion the affected area and relieve pressure
  • Orthotic devices- These are specialised shoe insolesto help support the feet. Depending on the condition of the bunion, you may need to put a spacer between the second and big toe. Whilebare foot, a splint can be used to keep the big toe straight.
  • Pain killers- Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Icing- Application of cold or ice packs can provide some relief from pain and swellingat the site of the affected toe
  • Corticosteroids- Doctor may prescribe this prescription medication to alleviate the inflammation.
  • Surgery- For extremely severe cases, surgery is the only option to correct the Bunions. This is called a bunionectomy.

When to visit a doctor?

You may choose visit a doctor or a podiatrist when there are any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling around and on the toe
  • Pain in the toe and foot
  • Prominent bump at the base of big toe
  • Difficulty moving or walking