Bunion: A Bony Protrusion On The Big Toe

Have you ever noticed a bony lump on the outside of your big toe? If yes, then you may have developed bunions. These are most often asymptomatic except for a prominent bulge but may get inflamed and cause pain. But the most distressing part of bunions is that it is aesthetically unappealing. However, fortunately, there are several conservative, and surgical methods to treat bunions. 

Dr. Han Nguyen, foot and ankle specialist offers comprehensive and advanced treatment to manage patients with bunions. 

Explain bunion

A bunion, medically known as “hallux abducto valgus”, is defined as a rounded, prominent bulge or bony lump on the side of your big toe. This is actually due to an abnormal alignment of the bones and not from any bone growth. Your big toe abnormally leans towards your smaller toes instead of being straight. This angle produces the visible bump seen on your toe. 

List the factors responsible for bunions

Bunions are usually caused due to an abnormal structural alignment of your big and smaller toes. The metatarsophalangeal joint is the joint that connects your metatarsal to your toe. When the tiny bones within this joint fall out of the normal alignment, the metatarsal begins to drift or lean inward, and the toe bones begin to shift toward the rest of the toes. 

This structural misalignment is caused due to the following factors:

  • Genetics (passed down through families due to a defective gene)
  • Using poorly-fitting, narrow footwear
  • Pre-existing medical conditions like arthritis 
  • Impaired foot mechanics

Mention the striking features that characterize bunion

Bunions may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • A prominent bump on the big toe
  • Persistent foot pain makes walking difficult 
  • Limited mobility of the big toe
  • Numbness in the big toe
  • Red and inflamed skin on the side of the big toe
  • Corns and calluses due to thick skin 

Discuss the diagnostic and treatment options available to manage bunion

Your doctor can diagnose a bunion through an obvious bony protrusion. However,  X-rays are recommended to determine the extent and severity of the bone misalignment.  


Conservative methods 

  • Footwear changes to take the pressure off of your toes
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) bunion pads provide cushioning, easing the pain
  • Custom-made orthotics (shoe inserts) to control alignment issues.
  • Medications such as oral or topical NSAIDs to relieve pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy to break up tissue adhesions to reduce pain and inflammation 


  • Bunionectomy 
  • Removal of severe forms of bunions, and realignment of the bones to bring back the big toe to its correct position 


Bunions are very common. But seek medical help when you notice any bony protrusion or other associated symptoms to prevent permanent deformity.