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Bunions: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The bunions , known medically as hallux valgus, are visible bony protrusions at the outer base of the big toe, which are produced as a result of a deviation of the bone or tissue of the metatarsophalangeal joint. This leads to the big toe leaning towards the second toe and even riding on top of the latter. When the lump has developed, you may experience severe pain, swelling, joint stiffness, and difficulty wearing shoes, walking, or performing any activity normally. For this reason and to avoid having to resort to surgery, it is important to receive treatment early and carefully follow the instructions provided by the doctor or podiatrist. So that you know more about this podiatric condition, at FastlyHealwe explain what they arethe causes and treatment of bunions.

Causes of bunions

The bunions are a podiatric condition may be congenital, acquired or pathologic, ie, on one hand, can be a congenital anomaly called interphalangeal joint (observed in few cases); be acquired as a consequence of certain general, extrinsic and intrinsic factors that lead to its development (the most common form); or be pathological as they are caused by suffering from diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or gout.

As we have pointed out, acquired bunions are the most common and their formation and development, in most cases, is related to factors such as those indicated below:

  • Genetics: those who have direct relatives who have suffered from hallux valgus are more likely to develop this bone malformation over time.
  • Sex: Bunions have been found to be more common in females, as women tend to wear tighter, narrower, and high-heeled shoes.
  • Age: bunions can appear at an early age without causing symptoms; However, when they are usually symptomatic, it is after 40 years of age.
  • Podiatric conditions: having a flat foot, a too long big toe, rotation of the first metatarsal or a muscle imbalance, can increase the chances of developing a bunion.
  • Misuse of footwear: the regular use of narrow shoes, which squeeze the toes and prevent the full mobility of the toes, is one of the main causes of the appearance of bunions.

Symptoms associated with bunions

Before seeing what signs may indicate the presence of a bunion, it is important to know that it is a progressive condition, which begins with an inclination of the big toe towards the second toe. This progresses as time passes and there is a change in the normal angle of the bones, which finally ends up causing the appearance of this protrusion on the outer edge of the foot.

In addition to the visible bony bump at the base of the big toe, other symptoms associated with bunions include:

  • Pain, aches, swelling near the metatarsophalangeal joint.
  • Inclination of the big toe towards the second toe, one toe may even be mounted on the other.
  • Red, irritated, and callused skin on the inner edge of the big toe.
  • Difficulty moving the big toe normally or pain when moving it.

At the first signs, we recommend that you put into practice the advice that we indicate in the article Tips to prevent bunions.

Treatment of bunions

It is essential that at the slightest suspicion of bunion formation or observing an inclination of the big toe towards the second toe and the presence of a slight protrusion, the doctor or podiatrist is consulted as soon as possible. And is that the treatment options vary greatly depending on the type of bunion and its state of severity, because if the bone deformity is detected early, it is possible to prevent it from worsening and avoid surgical intervention. However, in advanced cases in which the bony protrusion is already a reality and causes pain, it can only be reversed by surgery.

When the bunion is seen in the early stages of development, treatment is usually followed to relieve pressure on the affected area and slow the progressive deformation of the joint. For this, the doctor or specialist may recommend one or the alternation of several of the following forms of treatment:

  • Medications: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, or cortisone injections may be prescribed to reduce the pain and swelling caused by bunions.
  • Bandaging: the affected joint is bandaged in order to keep the foot in the normal position, reduce the pressure exerted by the shoes and reduce discomfort.
  • Use of special braces and splints: the regular use of specially designed splints or braces is recommended to correct bone deformity and avoid possible surgical intervention.
  • Use of special insoles: adhesion of specific insoles to footwear to protect the foot from impact against the ground, especially in those who suffer from a podiatric condition, such as flat feet or rotation of the first metatarsal.
  • Physical therapy: rehabilitation treatment or ultrasound therapy is followed to decrease inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Appropriate footwear: it is advisable to change footwear and start wearing wide-fit shoes that do not squeeze the toes, that allow good mobility of the foot and that offer good support to the indicated person.


In the event that the above treatments do not alleviate the pain of the bunion and this interferes with the performance of daily activities, it is likely that the doctor will suggest the option of surgery. There are different techniques that are specifically designed to remove the bony protrusion, correctly align the joint, and correct any possible changes in the soft tissue that may have occurred. After the intervention, it is normal for the patient to experience some discomfort and swelling during the first weeks, but these will disappear over time.

Natural remedies for bunions

In addition to medical treatments, it is also possible to reduce pain and inflammation caused by bunions on a daily basis through some natural remedies. Those that give the best results are the following:

  • Apply a little lavender oil to the affected area and massage for a few minutes to reduce inflammation.
  • Add a handful of coarse salt to a bowl of lukewarm water and soak your feet, letting them soak for about 20 minutes. This will help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Prepare an infusion of rue , add it to a container with warm water and perform a foot bath, like the previous one.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Bunions: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our category of Bones, Joints and Muscles .

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