A bunion (known in the podiatry world as a hallux valgus) is a bony lump usually located at the base of the big toe.
The lump is not actually new bone growth, but rather the big toebone joint that is slowly being pushed inwards towards your other toes.
If you have them then you know the lump can get quite sore, especially when wearing footwear not designed to fit your bunions as your feet will be too wide for the shoe.
Here is a severity scale of bunions from mild through to very severe.
Why do you get bunions?
1. The outward pushing of the bone to cause the lump has probably happened slowly over a number of years. For some this is due to the way the underside of your foot is shaped and therefore the way that has caused you to walk on one side of your feet (it’s called overpronation in podiatry terminology). This wonky walking put pressure on the bone and edged it inwards to get a little cosier with your second toe!
2. Many of you can blame your family for your bunion as they are often hereditary (thanks mum!), and you are certainly not alone if you have them. Over 15 million people suffer from them in the UK and it’s estimated that around 30% of every Western country suffers from bunions.
3. Women are more prone to developing bunions than men as they are more likely to have squeezed their feet into ill-fitting (but absolutely fabulous darling) high heel shoes and have made an existing condition worse. The pressure put onto your toes and your big toe joint will have not done your bunion development any favours.
4. You’re probably not in your 20’s anymore. Sorry, but it’s a fact that the older you get the more likely it is you will develop a bunion.
In the UK 85% of the people who have bunions are women over 45, and this percentage increases with age.
See the graph below taken from a study carried out by Arthritis and Care Research: Prevalence and associations of hallux valgus in a primary care population.
5. Other causes are previous foot conditions such as sprains, fractures, nerve injuries, loose ligaments, and low muscle tone which can also cause the big toe to move and create a bunion.