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Hallus Valgus (Bunions) Patient Information

Our aim is to give you some understanding of the problems you have with your big toe and to provide some advice on how to manage this.

It should be used along with information you may be given by your healthcare professional.

  • What is Hallux Valgus (commonly known as a bunion)?

    Image of person's foot with a bunion

    A bunion is a deformity of the base joint of the big toe.

    The joint at the base of the toe develops a sideways angle.

    The deformity is called Hallux Valgus. Due to this deformity the big toe can rotate and move more towards the smaller toes.

    The skin over the bunion can rub on the inside of your shoes. This may cause thickening and inflammation of the skin and tissues over the big toe joint.

    The thickened skin may become inflamed, swollen and painful. Sometimes a fluid filled sac, called a bursa, can develop over the joint.

  • What are the symptoms?
    • Pain and stiffness of the big toe joint
    • Swelling of the big toe joint
    • Difficulty walking
    • The foot may become so wide that it can be difficult to find wide enough shoes
  • Possible causes of a bunion?

    Even though this is a very common problem, the reasons for hallux valgus developing in an individual case are hard to define.

    However, heredity factors and footwear are thought to play a part among other things.

  • What tests may be done?

    In the majority of cases, you do not need an X-ray or any other tests to confirm what is wrong, unless your problem is severe enough that we may consider surgery.

    The main way to diagnose this problem is through what you tell us and examining your foot.

  • What can you do to help?
    • Aim for a healthy body weight.
    • Follow the advice from your community pharmacist or other healthcare professional about taking your medication. It is important to take medication regularly.
    • One of the most important things you can do to help is to wear the right footwear. You should try to wear wide shoes with a low heel that fit you comfortably. Shoes with laces or an adjustable strap are best as they can be adjusted to the width of your foot.
    • Do not wear high heeled, pointed or tight shoes as this will make your pain worse.
    • Rest and massage the feet when they become painful as this will relax the muscles around the nerves and joints.
    • Follow the exercises outlined below to help strengthen the small muscles of the foot.

Exercises to Help Your Bunion

Below are some exercises you should try to help relieve your bunion:



Image showing a foot doing a massage with a tennis ball

Tennis Ball Massage

While seated using a soft tennis ball, applying pressure under your foot, roll it in all directions under the sole of your foot working it from the heel towards the toes and then from side to side.

Perform this exercise 10–15 times and repeat 2–3 times per day.

Image of a person's foot whilst they're doing an arch exercise

Arch Exercise

Place your foot flat on the ground, gently press your big toe into the ground,
but be careful not to claw it.

Keeping your heel in place, raise your arch upwards and hold for 2 seconds.

Repeat 15 times.

Image of a foot doing toe scrunching exercises

Toe Scrunching Exercises

This is an exercise to strengthen the small muscles of your feet.

Either seated or standing place your foot flat on the ground on top of a towel.

Use your toes to scrunch the towel or paper or pick up your socks.

Repeat this exercise as often as you can.

Image of a person's foot whilst they're doing to extension exercises

Toe Extensions

This is a demonstration of an exercise to strengthen the small muscles of your feet.

Either seated or standing hold the big toe on the ground and raise all 4 smaller toes off the ground together.

Then keeping the smaller toes on the ground raise the big toe up off the ground.

Repeat both these exercises as often as you can.

Image showing a person doing a calf stretch with their knee straight

Calf stretch, knee straight

Stand with affected leg behind the other leg, keeping the heel down on the floor and the knee straight.

Lean forward bending the front knee forward until you feel a stretch in your calf and Achilles tendon (ankle area).

Hold 30 seconds and repeat 10 times.

Image showing person doing an exercise where they do a calf stretch and bend their knee

Calf stretch, knee bent

Repeat as exercise above but with knee of affected leg slightly bent.

If your pain does not start improving after a period of 8-12 weeks of following the advice above, please get referred to your local Podiatry Department to see a Podiatrist who can assess your foot and potentially recommend further treatment or onward referral.

If other treatments do not help and your bunion is very painful you may be referred for surgery.

This will only be decided after consultation with an Orthopaedic Surgeon who will discuss the risks and benefits of surgery with you.

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