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Bunion (Hallux Valgus)

This information is useful for those who have been diagnosed with bunions. People experiencing new or ongoing symptoms should contact a healthcare professional for assessment and diagnosis.

A bunion (hallux valgus) is a deformity caused by the base joint of the big toe developing sideways. This pushes the bones of the big toe towards the smaller toes.

If you have a bunion, try to stay positive. There’s a lot you can do to help yourself.

What causes a bunion?

The exact cause of bunions is unknown. Contributing factors can be:

  • a joint problem like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis
  • poorly fitting footwear
  • a family history

Bunion symptoms

Bunions can cause:

  • pain and stiffness of the big toe joint
  • swelling of the big toe joint – the foot may become so wide it can be difficult to find wide enough shoes
  • difficulty walking

Management of bunions

Wearing the right footwear is one of the best things you can do to help. Choose well fitting shoes. Ones with laces or an adjustable strap are best as they can adjust to the width of your foot. Avoid wearing high-heeled, pointed or tight shoes.

It may be helpful to use insoles and toe spacers to provide support for your foot or reduce pressure between your toes.

You may see bunion padding available. The repeated use of sticky padding can cause skin irritation so is not recommended as a regular solution.

Pain treatment

Pain medication can help you move more comfortably, which can help with the management of this condition.


It can be helpful to do exercises to strengthen the muscles in the foot. This can help in the management of the condition


A foot problem can sometimes mean you need to take some time off work to help recovery. How long you’re off will depend on the nature of your condition and your role at work.

You do not need to be symptom free before you consider returning to work. Continuing to go to work, or returning to work as soon as is possible for you, will help your recovery. Gradually getting back to your normal daily activities can help to build up your strength and stamina levels

Help and support 

Following this advice, you should see gradual improvements over time.

Talk to a healthcare professional about your symptoms if you’ve been following this advice and:

  • your symptoms haven’t improved within 12 weeks
  • your symptoms are worsening