Simply put, a bunion is a deformity of the foot, specifically at the base of the big toe. When most people think of bunions, they think of a large, red bump behind the big toe on the inside of the foot. This foot condition is common, treatable, and typically develops in older patients. Do you think you might have a bunion? Below, we help you identify the signs and symptoms of bunions!

What is a bunion, anyway?

Bunions are made of bone and they form over time. The formation starts by the big toe pointing towards the second toe and over time, this pointing forces the joint in the big toe to grow and protrude to the side. Although the skin around the bunion gets red and irritated, a bunion actually reflects a change in the bone structure of the foot. Essentially, the bone in the joint grows to compensate for the turning of the big toe. Bunions might also occur near the base of the little toe; these bunions are referred to as “tailor’s bunion” or bunionettes.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Bunions

Although bunions are a fairly common diagnosis, recognizing the signs and symptoms of a bunion can help you start treating it early. In the early stages of bunion formation, you may not experience symptoms, as bunions take time to develop.

As the bunion begins to develop and worsen, you may notice foot pain when you wear certain shoes. Shoes that irritate patients with bunions include shoes that crowd the toes or high heels. Often, this is the first sign of a bunion.

Once the bunion is further along in development, you will begin to notice a bulging bump on the inside of your foot, at the joint where your big toe and foot connect. Along with this bump, you may notice redness, soreness, or swelling around your big toe joint. At this point in bunion formation, patients typically start to feel physical pain or discomfort. Some patients have even reported a burning sensation around their bunion. Others claim the area around their big toe joint goes numb.

Bunion patients also may have corns or calluses, which typically form where the big toe and second toe overlap. These are due to rubbing between the toes as patients walk. Hardened or thicker skin may occur under the foot or at the base of the affected toe.

When to See a Doctor

While all of these symptoms are common with bunions, it is important to recognize when you should see a doctor or a foot specialist (orthopedic foot specialist or podiatrist) regarding your bunions. If the pain in your foot or big toe is persistent, or if you have decreased movement of your big toe, you should consider seeing your doctor. You may want to visit your doctor if your bunion has grown to a size where it is difficult to find shoes that fit you properly.

Although bunions may look and feel painful, they are generally harmless and can easily be treated by a doctor. Being aware of the symptoms of bunions can help you self-diagnose, but also understand when additional treatment may be necessary to help you live an active, fulfilling life!