A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, develops on the big toe joint when the bones of the big toe become misaligned. It looks like a large bump on the side of the toe. The big toe angles in toward the second toe, and, in severe cases, may overlap or tuck beneath the second toe. Bunions are more common in women than in men.
Certain inherited foot types, such as feet that pronate (heels rolled inward), increase the likelihood of bunions. Stress placed on the first metatarsal stretches the ligaments and tendons attached to it. Shoes that constrict the toes (high heels and shoes with pointed toes) can make the condition worse.
Depending on their severity, bunions can be painful. When irritated by shoes, they can become red and swollen. Without treatment, they may become worse over time.
Non-surgical treatments to decrease bunion pain include changing shoes (wearing styles with a wide toe box and low heels), cushioning bunions with bunion pads, using orthotics to correct abnormal foot mechanics, and avoiding activities that cause bunion pain. Surgery to correct bunion deformities is called a bunionectomy.