Bunions Facts



Most of us have heard the word ‘bunion’ before, but unfortunately, many of us suffer from this particular deformation of the foot as well and there are a few bunion facts that are always good to know:

  • Bunions indicate a displacement of the big toe as it begins to lean inward to the toes beside it.
  • Bunions usually occur on the big toe on the inside of the foot, but they can also affect the little toe on the outside of the foot as well. This is often referred to as ‘tailor’s bunion’.
  • Bunions occur in women more often than they occur in men.
  • Bunions may or may not cause symptoms to occur; some people are only aware that they have bunions because of the visual lump of bone.
  • Bunions can be treated with rest, modification of footwear, orthoses, pain medication, and/or surgery (although surgery is usually used as a last resort).

What Are Bunions?

A bunion is essentially a lump of bone sticking out from the side of the foot at the base of the big toe. While it’s possible that the lump will occur on the outside of the foot (tailor’s bunion), this is usually fairly rare.

Most people believe that a bunion is an additional growth of bone on the side of the foot but this isn’t the case; the visible bump occurs because the big toe is out of alignment and bending toward the other toes, which causes the head of the metatarsal to become more prominent and more visible.

This area of the foot may also become red, inflamed and very tender and/or painful. Bursitis may develop in the adjacent joint, which greatly increases discomfort levels.

Who develops bunions?

Bunions affect women much more than they affect men, in fact, some studies report that women suffer from bunions at 10 times the rate than men do. The suspected reason for this is a difference in footwear; women wear high heels and shoes with a narrower toe, which tends to be related to bunion development. This theory is supported by the observation that bunions occur more frequently in people who wear shoes regularly, as opposed to those who go barefoot.

There may also be an inherited inclination to the development of bunions, particularly in cases when they occur in young people. Abnormal development of the foot bones may contribute to the development of bunions, such as foot-related neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis and general vulnerability to foot injures.

Bunions are also common in ballet dancers, especially women, as their point shoes are not only constrictive with a narrow toe, but the body weight is frequently balanced on the end of the toes as well.

Symptoms and Signs of Bunion Development

Not everyone who develops bunions also develops symptoms, but some of the most common signs of bunion development are as follows:

  • Foot pain on the first metatarsal, especially when walking or wearing constrictive shoes
  • Foot pain that decreases when you are sitting or lying down
  • There is a bony protrusion at the base of the big toe, especially when it leans in toward the other toes
  • There is redness, swelling and/or tenderness at the base of the big toe

While bunions are the most common cause of the above symptoms if they occur in post-menopausal women it could signal the onset of gout or arthritis and the feet should be examined by a professional.