Bunions & Bunionettes: How to stop them in their tracks!

Bunions & Bunionettes: How to stop them in their tracks!


Bunions are the primary cause of foot (and footwear!) troubles for both women and men alike. They can be unsightly, painful, and make the simple task of choosing well-fitting footwear nearly impossible. What’s worse is that bunions (and bunionettes) progressively worsen over time, meaning the frustration you feel now will only be amplified as the years go on. So what can you do about bunions & bunionettes – and how did they even come about in the first place?! The Sole Motion team talk bunions!


What exactly is a bunion and a bunionette?

Medically known as Hallux Abducto Valgus (HAV), the term ‘bunion’ describes a bony bulge that develops on the inside of the big toe at the ball of the foot. The bump is caused by a malaligned position of the big toe joint where the long bone (metatarsal) moves out towards the other foot, and the connecting toe (phalanx) bends in on it, toward the other toes.

A bunionette is similar to a bunion but affects the little (fifth) toe at the ball of the foot. A bunionette is smaller than a bunion and is also known as a tailor’s bunion because of their historical prevalence among tailors who regularly worked sitting cross-legged with the side of the fifth toe rubbing against the ground.


What causes these bumps to develop?

The causes of bunions and bunionettes, but generally come down to increased pressure on the sides of the joints that push the toe bones inwards, and the joint itself outwards. Causes may include:

  • Poorly fitting footwear, especially shoes with pointed toes
  • Abnormal foot biomechanics, such as instability at the joints at the ball of the foot
  • Regularly wearing high heels
  • Flat feet
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Increasing age
  • History of injury to the big and little toe joints
  • Arthritic conditions


What are the signs and symptoms?

The biggest sign is the change in appearance (protrusion) of the big and little toe joints. You may also experience:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain at the big and little toe joint
  • Thickened skin and/or corns around the affected joint
  • Pain on bending the toe
  • Difficulty wearing shoes, especially if they are narrow at the toes

As bunions and bunionettes progressively worsen, the affected toe may push into the neighbouring toes. Over time, the toes may begin to overlap.


How should they be treated?

Early intervention is the key to stopping bunions and bunionettes in their tracks. It is much easier to manage a bunion or bunionette that is still relatively flexible and has recently begun changing shape/position, as opposed to one that is fixed in place and has been present for decades. Once they become fixed in place, the symptoms can be managed and reduced, though it is very difficult to alter the position and structure of the deformed joint.

The first thing we do here at Sole Motion Podiatry is conduct a thorough examination of your foot and determine if there are any other biomechanical factors/abnormalities in play aside from the presence of the bunion/bunionette. We want to address any contributing factors to limit any similar future changes of the joints.

Concurrent conditions such as arthritis, if present in the joint, may alter the best treatment options for your feet, and will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. If painful symptoms are present, resting and icing the foot can help offer relief. Depending on the severity of the changes to the joint, we may use the following tools in the treatment of your bunion:

  • Footwear assessment to ensure your shoes are helping and not hindering your bunion/bunionette
  • Orthotics to correct any abnormal foot biomechanics and relieve pressure away from the first or fifth toes
  • Splinting where appropriate
  • Padding
  • Mobilisation techniques
  • Stretching and strengthening where appropriate
  • Low-level laser to reduce any pain/swelling where present

We will run through everything you need to know to address your bunion/bunionette appropriately now and get the best long-term outcomes as we slow down and limit any future progression, where appropriate. In severe cases, where symptoms or the deformation is not reducible, surgery may be indicated. We’ll talk you through all of this and answer any questions you may have.

Here at Sole Motion Podiatry, we’re a team of experts that specialise in foot biomechanics and helping you overcome any pains, problems and obstacles so you can be on your feet and enjoying the activities you love. We understand how disheartening and frustrating foot issues can be, and are with you every step of the way. To find out more or to book in, give our friendly team a call on 1300-FX-FEET.

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