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Footnotes / Blog

Bunion Definition

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 Kenneth Donovan

What is a Bunion? A bunion is a large bump or growth on the inside of your foot near the big toe. It is caused by the 1st metatarsal bone drifting outward, and the big toe drifting the opposite way. This dislocation of the big toe on the metatarsal creates that bump. It’s analogous to creating a “knuckle” on the side of your foot.

Think of it this way, if you flatten your hand on a table, the top of your hand should be flat. Now curl your fingers under and create a fist. You should see 4 distinct bumps on the top your hand (one for each finger). The same thing is happening in the foot, but only to the big toe.

In normal feet, the toes should be more or less straight. However, in a flat foot, the front part becomes destabilized due to over-pronation. This destabilization causes the big toe joint to drift out of place, creating the bump you see.

In medical terms this is defined as Hallux Abductus Valgus (ie HAV). Hallux is the Latin word describing the big toe. Abductus describes the position of the big toe, and is latin for “pull away from the midline of the body”. So in the case of bunion deformities the big toe is pointing away from the body’s midline (or center of gravity), hence the term. The word Valgus is another Latin word that describes the rotation the big toe undergoes. In this case, an outward rotation.

Usually these are painless foot deformities, although they can be cosmetically unappealing. In cases where there is pain, surgery is usually the most effective treatment. However, for mild cases there are some pads and strappings available to alleviate the pain.