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Bunions are a condition in which the big toe is angled excessively towards the second toe and the bunion actually refers to the bony prominence on the side of the big toe. This can also form a large sac of fluid, known as a bursa, which can then become inflamed and sore.

Pressure from the big toe joint can lead to a deformity in the joint of the second toe, pushing it toward the third toe and so on. Likewise, if the second toe and big toe cross over, it can be difficult to walk.

Bunions can cause callus and corns elsewhere on the foot due to altered gait.

Bunions are usually hereditary and more common on women as their ligaments are looser making the more prone. Footwear is not the cause of bunions but can exacerbate the symptoms – slip-on shoes and high heel shoes commonly cause excessive pressure on the foot

Properly fitting footwear can help alleviate symptoms as can muscle strengthening exercises. Your podiatrist can prescribe Orthoses (insoles) to help slow the progression of bunion deformity. In cases where bunions cause severe pain, a referral to with a Podiatric or Orthopaedic surgeon may be necessary.

Other big toe deformities include Hallux Rigidus where the big toe joint stiffens resulting in an altered gait and symptomatic pain.

Smaller toes can become hammer toes where they are bent and cannot straighten out during gait making them vulnerable to corn formation. Tight footwear and socks can contribute to the hammer toe deformity. Podiatrist can prescribe appliances to help straighten toes but surgery may be required in some cases.

Smaller toes may also be curly or retracted due to tight footwear or socks.