Mr Dishan Singh MBChB, FRCS, FRCS(Orth)

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Foot & Ankle Specialist

Bunions (hallux valgus)

Hallux is Latin for great toe and valgus is the Latin term for turning outwards. As the big toe drifts towards the second toe, a lump (bunion) appears at the base of the big toe. It is not usually due to extra bone formation, but due to the bone of the first metatarsal becoming prominent. Simple removal of the bunion (bunionectomy) is often not enough to correct the problem and osteotomies may be required.


A bunion may be painful in itself but commonly further pain is caused by pressure from shoes over the prominent area. This results in inflammation and increased pain.

Lesser toe deformities

Various names (claw toe, hammer toe, mallet toe, curly toe) are used to describe the deformed lesser toes (smaller toes); they often develop as a result of a bunion deformity but can also occur without a bunion. The second toe is most commonly affected. Painful callosities cause pain, difficulty finding shoes and difficulty walking. With time, a flexible deformed toe may become a stiff deformed toe.

Lesser toe deformities

The joints at the base of the toes (metatarsophalangeal) may become inflamed and may displace, leading to problems with pain under the metatarsal heads in the ball of the foot.

Benefits of surgery

The purpose/benefits of this surgery are to straighten the toe(s), narrow the forefoot and correct deformity in order to reduce pain. The exact procedures performed are individualised for each patient and the benefits also vary.

Read more about bunions and lesser toe deformities, including common causes and treatments:

 A patient's guide to bunions (hallux valgus) and lesser toe deformities

Images used by permission of RNOH

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