Overview of Bunions

Bunions are painful swellings that develop most often on the inner side of the foot near the base of the first toe (hallux). Less frequently, bunions occur at the base of the fifth toe (called a "tailor's bunion").

Bunions result from inflammation and thickening of the bursa (fluid-filled sac in the connective tissue) and cause abnormal bone formation and misalignment of the toe.

Bunions can be related to inflammation or to degenerative disease (e.g., osteoarthritis). They cause redness, tenderness and pain, and alter the normal position of the first toe.

"Hallux abductovalgus" (HAV) is a term that refers to the hallux going away (abducting) from the midline of the body and twisting so the inside edge touches the ground and the outside edge turns upward. Essentially, this term describes the deviation of the toe toward the outside of the foot.

Bunions worsen over time and cause discomfort, difficulty walking, and skin problems such as corns and lesions. Sometimes, a small fluid-filled sac (bursa) near the joint becomes inflamed (called bursitis), causing additional swelling, redness and pain.

Bunion Image

Click on the bunion image to enlarge.

Publication Review By: Hai-En Peng, D.P.M., Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 01 Jan 2000

Last Modified: 16 Dec 2011