Bunions are localized enlargements of bone and tissue on the sides and/or top of the joint at either the base of the big toe or smallest toe (bunionette). The common bunion is located at the base of the big toe (the first metatarsophalangeal joint). The enlargement is often a combination of bone and joint malalignment in combination with tissue inflammation. The common bunion is frequently associated with an inward displacement deformity of the big toe that is medically referred to as a hallux abducto valgus deformity. Bunions are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe.
A bunion at the base of the smallest (fifth or little) toe is referred to as a tailor's bunion or bunionette. This is because this bunion was noticed to be associated with pressure on the little toe of old-fashioned tailors when they sat cross-legged for hours at their craft.
Bunions can often be mistaken for hallux rigidus which is similar but typically more arthritic.
Causes of Bunions
Bunions are very common. They are especially painful with the repeated use of pointed-toe, narrow, and high-heeled shoes. This puts added stress and pressure on the tissues at the base of the big toe and/or little toe. Bunions are progressive deformities and tend to become larger with time. The tendency to form bunions is largely inherited since foot function patterns (biomechanics) are inherited.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/25/2016
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