Recent Blog Articles

Special section: Feet: Agonies of the feet: Four common foot problems

Updated: August 01, 2009

Special section: Feet

Agonies of the feet: Four common foot problems

Bunions

illustration of foot with bunion

They develop when the joint formed by the metatarsal and proximal phalanx bones of the big toe fall out of their normal, relatively straight alignment and angle out, creating an outward bulge at the base of the big toe. The bursa that cushions the joint may also get inflamed and enlarge. Often the end of the metatarsal bone becomes larger and misshapen.

Causes. Some people have a natural tendency to develop bunions because the big toe’s metatarsal bone is splayed out to begin with. Wear-and-tear and being overweight can splay it out even further. Lack of an arch and overpronation (walking on the inside of your foot) put more weight on the big toe and its metatarsal-phalangeal joint. Jamming feet into narrow shoes puts backward pressure on the big toe, so it buckles out, forming a bunion.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».

Disclaimer:

As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.