A bunion is a common foot condition that affects around 15% of women in the UK. It is a bony bump that develops due to an abnormaly aligned foot bone. They are more prevalent in women than men, due to female footwear choices. Bunions, which are medically termed hallux valgus, are thought to be hereditary and exasperated by wearing high heels or uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes. Other medical conditions can also trigger bunions, so getting medical advice is always recommended.

Bunions develop gradually. The big toe leans towards the second toe due to the pressure exerted on the joint of the big toe. This causes a change in the bone structure resulting in a bunion. Some people find it difficult to wear shoes due to this deformity.

Factors such as foot injuries and congenital deformities are likely to cause the development of bunions. Some inflammatory types of arthritis are associated with bunions.

People who wear high heels and those with inherited foot defects are at higher risk of developing bunions. You are also more susceptible to bunions if you wear tight-fitting shoes.

The main sign of a bunion is a bony bump at the base of the big toe which points towards the other toes. Bunions can alter the shape of your foot, which may make it difficult for shoes to fit properly and in severe cases, they can affect the way you walk. They can be very painful and due to the bunion rubbing against shoes, they can also cause calluses and sore skin and may even cause overlapping of the big toe and second toe.

Other symptoms of a bunion include inflammation, redness, persistent pain and formation of a callus on the bump. A bunion can also cause soreness, and restricting movement of the big toe.

You should see a podiatric specialist if you experience persistent pain in the foot, a bump on the toe and decreased toe movement.

The specialist will examine the foot and take a detailed history and physical examination followed by an x-ray may be recommended. There are many surgical procedures that will help permanently resolve the problem including the latest minimally invasive techniques. The surgeon will attempt to resolve both the symptoms and appearance of the foot by straightening the toe and narrowing the overall width.

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