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Can Bunions Cause Pain On Top Of Foot?

Bunions are deformities of the base of the great toe. That can cause disability. It mostly develops over time and is a pretty common disorder. One of the main concerns of people with bunions is can bunions cause pain on top of foot. So in this article, we are gonna discuss that.

To put it simply, yes, bunions can cause pain at the top of the foot. It is not just a big toe issue, bunions can cause problems in different other parts of the body too. But before discussing it further, let’s get to know first what a bunion is.

What Is A Bunion?

A bunion is a deformity of the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint at the base of the big toe where the base of the big toe is pointed outwards thus causing the big toe to be pressed against the other toes.

It is caused by the displacement of the bones and tissues of the joint where the first metatarsal bone of the foot moves outwards and the tip of the big toe is directed towards other toes causing a bump to form at the joint. There is a Latin name for the deformity and it is called hallux valgus. Hallux means big toe and valgus means turned away from the midline of the body. The medical term for bunion is hallux abducto valgus.

what is a bunion

This protrusion causes problems wearing shoes, putting pressure on the joint which might make the skin and underlying tissues to be inflamed and painful and also restrict the movements of the big toe.


Smaller bunions can also form on the 5th metatarsal joint, at the base of the little toe. These smaller bunions are called bunionette.

Signs And Symptoms

  • A protruding bump on the base of your big toe.
  • The great toe is directed toward the other toes. Sometimes the constant friction between the great toe and second toe forms corns or calluses.
  • Redness, swelling, and tenderness of the big toe joint.
  • Occasional numbness of the big toe.
  • Limited range of motion of the big toe.
  • Difficulty wearing regular shoes

Types of bunions

Mostly bunions are big toe problems. Different types of bunions include:

Congenital hallux valgus: Some people are born with bunions.

Juvenile or adolescent hallux valgus: Tweens and teens between the ages of 10 and 15 may develop bunions.

Tailor’s bunion: Also called a bunionette, this bunion forms on the outside base of the little (pinky) toe.

Causes Of Bunions

  • Genetic
  • Birth defects
  • Faulty footwear; especially people who wear shoes that are too tight around the toes.
  • Foot stress or injures

How Bunion Causes Pain And Other Foot Problems

Although bunions may remain asymptomatic for years without causing any major change in one’s lifestyle, the lack of proper management can make the bump grow worse over time. The malalignment of the joint shifts the pressure change in the foot and creates problems in other areas of the body too, including your hips, knees, upper back, etc.

Some of the common issues associated with bunions are:


1. Hammer Toe

One of the most common side effects of bunions is the development of hammer toes. Hammer toes are a problem that causes a bend in a toe. It is a structural deformity that occurs in the middle joint of the toe. Although it can occur in any toe, the most common are the second, third, and fourth toes.

One of the main causes of hammer toe is trauma. This is where bunions come in. In someone with bunions, the big toe constantly pushes against the second toe, altering the structural integrity of the second toe which may cause the second toe to bend or buckle and form a hammer toe. This leads to pain and inflammation and rigidity of both first and second toes.

2. Crossover Toe

A crossover toe is a worsening variation of a hammer toe. It occurs when the big toe constantly pushes the second toe causing it to lose its stability and force upwards. The bunion constantly grows larger and the big toe moves further towards the other toes and the second foe finally goes over the big toe forming a crossover toe.

3. Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia is a condition where the ball of your foot becomes painful and inflamed

In case of bunions, the huge pressure change may end up transferring some of these pressures to the ball of the foot and cause metatarsalgia.

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4. Ingrown Toenails

The displacement and malalignment of the big toe puts pressure on the toenails causing them to grow in abnormal shape which is difficult to trim or manage. The more progressive the bunion, the worse position the toe is in, and the more risk of developing painful and ingrown toenails.

Also Read: How Long Does It Take For A Bunion Splint To Correct?

Treatment Of Bunions

Bunions are hard to get rid of once they develop and successful treatment depends a lot on the severity of the bunions. But there are some home remedies you can use to ease the pain caused by the deformity.

1. Home Remedies

Avoid wearing faulty footwear such as high heels or tight, pointy shoes. Instead, wear flat, wide shoes with low heels and soft soles.

Try exercising and losing weight if you are an overweight person.

Cold compression: Use an ice pack or frozen food and hold it over the bunion for 5 to 10 minutes to reduce pain and swelling.


Bunion pads (moleskin or gel-fitted pads) are available in pharmacies that are soft and protect your feet from friction. You can put them in your shoes to avoid them rubbing on your bunions.

Take over-the-counter painkillers such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen.

2. Hospital Treatment

If the pain from your bunion does not decrease after weeks of home treatment but is getting worse with time or if you have associated chronic diseases such as diabetes, you may need to see a general practitioner or a podiatrist.

Method Of Lapiplasty

Your healthcare practitioner may advise different methods of treatment to relieve the pain such as corrective footwear (orthotics), splints, toe supports, toe spacers, etc.

3. Surgery

You may also need surgery if the bunions become very painful or affect your ability to walk or move your feet. However, surgery does not ensure 100% recovery from bunions and it usually takes 6 months to a year to heal from the surgery completely.

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