A bunion (hallux valgus) is a bony protrusion that forms most often in the joint at the base of the big toe. The big toe joint enlarges and forces the toe to point back toward the other toes, encroaching on them and sometimes overlapping them. This abnormal positioning puts pressure on the big toe joint, causing it to grow outward beyond the normal profile of the foot, resulting in pain and fitting difficulties in normal footwear. Bunions can also occur in the fifth toe joint (the little toe). In this location they are called “tailor’s bunions” or “bunionettes.”
Bunions are one of the most common foot issues and occur much more frequently in women than in men, mostly because women often wear high heels and pointy shoes. According to the 2012 National Foot Health Assessment conducted by the NPD Group for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health, 8 percent of U.S. women over age 21 (or about 18 million women), and about 4 million men report having the condition.