Bunions / big toe joint pain are a very common cause of pain at the front of the foot occurring in up to 36% of the population
- Do you have a painful big toe joint?
- Is the big toe joint moving sideways?
- Does your pain limit you in from exercising or doing physical activities you usually do?
- Do you feel that you are experiencing reduced balance?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions it is likely that you have a bunion (hallux valgus).
Important things you should know about bunions
Hallux valgus, also known as a bunion, is a common condition affecting up to 36% of the population characterised by the progressive deformation of the big toe joint of the foot, resulting in sideways dislocation of the big toe. As the deformity worsens the big toe compresses against the second toe, which leads to clawing of the lesser toes (toes 2 to 5).
Hallux valgus causes foot pain, altered walking patterns, reduced physical activities and impaired balance. People with hallux valgus have difficulty finding comfortable footwear.
There are a number of potential causes for this condition including:
- Increasing age
- Female sex
- Regular use of footwear with a narrow toe-box
- Hereditary factors
- Flat feet
There are several conditions that can cause pain around the bunion. These conditions include synovitis, first metatarsophalangeal joint osteoarthritis (hallux rigidus/limitus), sesamoiditis, tendon disorders, gout, rheumatological disease, neurological pain (usually diabetes), infection, interdigital neuroma and interdigital bursitis. As these conditions are treated differently, an accurate diagnosis is critical to successful treatment.
What will the podiatrists at the Northern Foot Clinic do to treat this problem?
- Take a thorough history from you and evaluate your footwear
- Comprehensively examine your ankle and surrounding structures to arrive at an accurate diagnosis (an accurate diagnosis is critical to developing an effective management plan for hallux valgus)
- Assess your movement during walking (and running) using video imaging (called a biomechanical assessment)
- Refer you for imaging studies if the diagnosis is not clear
- Initiate a management plan that aims to address the causes of your pain, improve your functioning and retard the progression of the deformity
Where can I find more information on bunions?
We recommend the following resources for high quality independent information for bunions:
Patient UK: Evidence based information written by general practitioners:
Wikipedia - easy to read summary of the condition:
Call Northern Foot Clinic today to arrange an appointment with a podiatrist and get professional treatment for your foot pain — (03) 9004 2342
For other health professionals — here is some high-level evidence for the assessment and treatment of bunions
Nix S, Smith M, Vicenzino B. Prevalence of hallux valgus in the general population: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Foot Ankle Res 2010;3: 21.
Menz HB, Roddy E, Thomas E, Croft PR. Impact of hallux valgus severity on general and foot-specific health-related quality of life. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2011;63 3: 396-404.
Nix SE, Vicenzino BT, Collins NJ, Smith MD. Characteristics of foot structure and footwear associated with hallux valgus: a systematic review. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2012;20 10: 1059-74.
Dawson J, Thorogood M, Marks SA, Juszczak E, Dodd C, Lavis G et al. The prevalence of foot problems in older women: a cause for concern. J Public Health 2002;24 2: 77-84.
Hannan MT, Menz HB, Jordan JM, Cupples LA, Cheng C-H, Hsu Y-H. High heritability of hallux valgus and lesser toe deformities in adult men and women. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2013;65 9: 1515-21.