There's a bump on my big toe joint. Should I show my doctor?

There's a bump on my big toe joint

A bump on the foot that isn't going away or is painful can give you a good reason to see an orthopedic doctor. He or she can provide a diagnosis and set a up a treatment plan to help you recover. A bump on the toe may be a type of bunion. Bunions, bunionettes, and adolescent bunions are all painful conditions specifically affecting the second toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP)). There are some differences between the three types of bunions:

Bunions are painful and develop over time. Typically only adults (mostly females) complain about these large bumps on the inside of the foot at the big toe joint. The big toe also becomes angled inward toward the rest of the toes. This is usually caused by frequently wearing pointed shoes that pinch the toes together. Eventually one or both big toes may even overlap or underlap the toe next to it, causing even more problems. While bunions can be hereditary, wearing shoes that squish the toes together is considered the primary cause. These can often be helped or prevented altogether by wearing roomier footwear.

The name "bunionette" sounds like a miniature bunion. It's actually a bunion located on the little toe MTP joint instead of the big toe. Bursitis, a callus, or a corn over this tiny joint may develop as the body responds to the pain and irritation.

Adolescent bunions afflict kids, usually ages 10-15. They're the same as regular bunions but they're caused by heredity, not footwear.

All three types of bunions can also be caused or exacerbated by inflammatory or neuromuscular conditions.

The most common symptoms of bunions:

  • Painful or tender red bump on the MTP joint
  • Outside toe angled inward
  • Hard skin on the bottom of the foot under the affected joint
  • Limited range of motion in affected toe
  • Difficulty walking (severe cases)

In addition to the common symptoms, bunions or any other painful foot condition can negatively affect athletic performance or daily activities by causing a person to walk, run, or move differently to compensate for the pain. This can alter the correct body position, which may cause other musculoskeletal issues affecting balance, accuracy, and even endurance. Improper body position is also known to increase the chance of injury to joints, muscles, and tendons.

There are effective treatments available for bunions. Changing footwear, padding the bunion, getting custom orthotics (toe spacers, toe splints, inserts that reposition the foot), ice, and anti-inflammatory medications are the most common ways to relieve symptoms. Surgery is an option if these treatments don't help, although recovery is long. Surgery for adolescents is normally not recommended because the bunion can return after they are full-grown.