bunions (hallux valgus)

What is a bunion?

A ‘bunion’ is the lay term that describes an enlargement and deformity of the big toe joint. 

 The deformity arises because of a progressive dislocation of the big toe joint, which causes the toe to move towards the second toe.  At the same time the 1st metatarsal (long bone) moves in the opposite direction which creates a bony lump on the inside of the foot.

What are the symptoms?

The pain and swelling you experience with a bunion are as a result of shoe pressure against the bony prominence and/or degenerative arthritis within the big toe joint.  Occasionally there will be an associated bursitis (inflamed soft tissue sac) present overlying the big toe joint, which will add to the present discomfort. As the bunion deformity worsens, the big toe joint becomes more arthritic from being in a chronically subluxed position.

How do we diagnose bunions?

Diagnosis is primarily made by your Podiatrist through assessment of clinical appearance and symptoms. 

Xray imaging can aid in determining the severity of the deformity, including whether any arthritis exists within the joint.

How will I know if my child is at risk of developing bunions?

There are several risk factors known to be associated with bunion development. These include –

Certain foot structural features including forefoot width, metatarsal length and metatarsal head-shape.

Flat feet or feet which roll inwards, placing greater force on the big toe joint and subsequently leading to arthritic change.

Hypermobility of the first ray (long bone) which allows instability of the joint to deviate from its neutral position.

A familial history of bunions or a genetic predisposition to the features listed above.

Poor footwear (eg too small, too narrow) which plays an important role in accelerating the process.


How do we treat bunions?

There are three ways to treat bunions:

1. Live with the problem and avoid excessive pressure from footwear.

2. Use a functional orthotic (shoe insert) to off-load the inside part of the foot and do various exercises to strengthen the muscles that control foot function.

3. Surgery to correct the alignment of the big toe joint.

In most cases conservative treatment is recommended however sometimes the bunion deformity is significant and not responsive to orthotics, so that surgery is the best treatment option. Surgery usually involves making a cut in the 1st metatarsal bone, and repositioning the bone into its corrected position, whilst also stabilizing the ligaments and muscles around the joint. It usually is a day surgery procedure that requires you to wear a special protective sandal for about 6 weeks

The Podiatry Practice Brisbane Can Help

Our Brisbane Podiatrists are experienced in diagnosing and treating bunions.

Following a comprehensive assessment of your symptoms, foot shape and function, our Podiatrist will discuss the treatment options best suited to you.

At The Podiatry Practice in Brisbane we offer a diverse range of treatment options to suit your needs including custom orthotics.

Podiatrist Woolloongabba

Book an appointment today with one of our expert Brisbane Podiatrists. Call 3391 3900.

No referral needed