What is Hallux Valgus?

Hallux is Latin for “big toe”, or “first toe” and valgus means the displacement away from midline. Hallux Valgus is the most common foot deformity and is represented by a widespread misalignment of the big toe. Approximately 25% to 35% of the population have hallux valgus in varying degrees and it often causes foot pain and functional disability. Our orthopedic telemedicine experts have extensive experience in diagnosing and treating hallux valgus. They can consult with you through our state-of-the-art telehealth platform and give you the best medical advice for the treatment of your foot and toe pain associated with hallux valgus.

How are hallux valgus and bunions different?

Hallux valgus is often called a bunion, or protrusion on the big toe. Technically, they are two different deformities. The term “bunion” is often used to describe a variety of deformities in the toe that include a painful bump and swelling at the base of the big toe. The bump, or bony prominence causes inflammation in the toe and the bursa.

Orthopedists define hallux valgus as a condition where the big toe deviates from the normal position and angles inward toward the second toe. The bone malformation doesn’t always include a bunion, or protrusion. However, this bone irregularity can (and usually does) accompany a painful bunion and is why they are grouped together to mean the same thing.

Certainly, a patient can have hallux valgus without a bunion and vice versa, but often the two conditions go hand in hand and are called one term: bunion.

What causes hallux valgus or bunions?

The exact cause of hallux valgus and the development of bunions is not well established. However, there are certain factors that contribute to the development of hallux valgus such as:

  • Gender – Women have hallux valgus and bunions 10-times more frequently than men.
  • Heredity – Condition can be congenital
  • Footwear – Tight, pointed shoes
  • Wearing high-heels – Especially during the ages of 20-40, can effect the development of hallux valgus in later years.
  • Severe flatfoot
  • Higher body mass index

What are the symptoms of hallux valgus and bunions?

Symptoms of hallux valgus and a bunion most often occur when wearing shoes that crowd or pinch the toes. Heels, or shoes with a tight toe box can exacerbate symptoms which may include:

  • Pain and tenderness at the side of the toe
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • A burning sensation
  • Possible numbness, radiating to the toe

How are hallux valgus and bunions diagnosed?

The severity of hallux valgus can be measured on x-ray. Bunions are often visible at the base of the big toe, or on the side of the foot. Our orthopedic foot and ankle specialists recommend an x-ray to determine the degree of deformity. They can review your x-rays and assess the degree of malformity, then advise a treatment plan suited to your needs. It may be of value to receive an expert opinion on how to treat hallux valgus and bunions. You can connect with an expert on our orthopedic telemedicine platform.

What is the treatment for hallux valgus and bunions?

Non-Surgical Treatment:

Conservative treatments should be explored before surgical intervention and may include:

  • Footwear adjustment that eliminates pinching at the toe and friction at the site of the bunion.
    • Choose a shoe with a wider, deeper toe box.
  • Padding – Placing pads over the site of the bunion can help minimize rubbing pain
  • Activity modification – Standing for long periods of time can aggravate bunions
  • NSAIDs – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help with bunion or hallux valgus pain
  • Ice – Helps reduce inflammation

Surgical Treatment:

If conservative treatments fail to relieve pain and when bunion pain interferes with daily activities, surgery should be considered. There are several surgical procedures available and our experts can help you decide which one is right for you.  Some surgical treatments are:

  • Bunionectomy – Removes the “bump” of bone on the toe
  • Chevron Osteotomy
  • Scarf Osteotomy
  • Crescent Osteotomy
  • Lapidus Procedure

For more information about hallux valgus, bunions and bunion pain, or to receive an expert consultation for your foot pain, please contact our experts, by clicking on “Connect With a Doctor.” You will be connected to one of our orthopedic telemedicine experts through our state-of-the-art telemedicine platform.