A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. This big toe joint becomes enlarged, forcing the toe to crowd against your other toes. This puts pressure on your big toe joint, pushing it outward beyond the normal profile of your foot, and resulting in pain.
Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but a common cause is wearing shoes that fit too tightly.
Bunions can also develop as a result of an inherited structural defect, stress on your foot or a medical condition, such as arthritis. Often, treatment involves conservative steps that may include changing your shoes, padding your bunion and wearing shoe inserts. Severe cases of bunions may require surgery.
The signs and symptoms of a bunion include:
- A bulging bump on the outside of the base of your big toe
- Swelling, redness or soreness around your big toe joint
- Thickening of the skin at the base of your big toe
- Corns or calluses — these develop where the first and second toes overlap
- Persistent or intermittent pain
- Restricted movement of your big toe
Pain from a bunion can range from mild to severe, often making it difficult to walk in normal shoes. The skin and deeper tissue around the bunion also may become swollen or inflamed. Your other toes can be affected by a bunion as a result of pressure from your big toe pushing inward toward them. Your toenails may begin to grow into the sides of your nail bed. Your smaller toes also can become bent or claw-like (hammertoes).