Lump on the toe (hallux valgus): causes & treatment

Women over the age of forty are particularly at risk of developing a bunion, but sometimes this so-called crooked big toe also occurs in young people. This bump on the foot is quite noticeable and occurs on the metatarsal bone of the big toe. Causes of the foot lump should be sought in family predisposition, wearing narrow shoes and high heels. In medical terms, this bump is called “hallux valgus.” Adapted shoes and arch supports can provide relief against hallux valgus, just like an ankle sock with gel. A toe corrector or toe spreader are also effective against hallux valgus for some people. In addition, foot exercises can also contribute to greater flexibility of the toes. However, sometimes foot surgery is the only solution. What are the causes and symptoms of this foot lump? And what is the treatment for this lump or bump on the big toe?

Lump in the foot or big toe

The foot lump or hallux valgus is a fairly noticeable abnormality on the foot, which is clearly visible to the naked eye. With this deviation of the big toe, the metatarsal bone moves towards the inside of the foot. This phenomenon is also known as the crooked big toe . In the phenomenon of hallux valgus, a kind of bump forms on the head of the metatarsal bone. If you compare your foot with the arch with your other “normal” foot, you will clearly notice the difference. Hallux valgus can occur in one foot, but also in both feet, as shown in the introductory photo.

Symptoms of hallux valgus


The big toe that becomes crooked and forms a bump or lump occurs in thirty percent of adults. Women over the age of forty are particularly affected, but men who like to wear shoes with narrow points also form a risk group. On the foot, an abnormality is clearly visible in the big toe, which is positioned sideways and where a lump or bump forms. However, a crooked big toe can also occur in younger people, as in the attached photo, which shows a hallux valgus foot of a 24-year-old. The deviation of the toe can be mild or strong, with a strong deviation increasing the risk of additional complaints.


In addition to forming a lump or bump, hallux valgus can also be accompanied by pain. This pain can occur at rest or while moving, and ranges from mild to severe. If there is also arthritis, the pain can be experienced as more severe.


The metatarsal bone can become inflamed and very sensitive. This can cause inflammation of the mucous membranes (bursitis), with symptoms such as redness and swelling of the skin. The bump on the foot may also feel warm.

Hallux valgus / Source: Lamiot, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-4.0)

Causes of foot lump


Genetic factors may be the cause of the crooked big toe. Sometimes there is a family predisposition and hallux valgus is common in women over forty within the same family. The shape of the foot can also play a role: if you have a wide forefoot with a fairly long toe, then you belong to the risk group.


In addition, the presence of arthritis can also influence the development of hallux valgus. Finally, narrow shoes and high-heeled shoes can also contribute to the development of the foot lump. People who like to wear shoes with narrow points are more likely to develop hallux valgus.

Preventing Hallux valgus: tips

An interesting fact about hallux valgus is that this condition is much less common in countries where people are used to walking barefoot or wearing comfortable footwear from an early age. In warm countries, for example, people often wear slippers and “open” shoes, where the feet and toes are not pinched. To give the foot as much space as possible and to prevent the development of hallux valgus, it is recommended to avoid narrow, difficult-to-fit shoes. Choose flexible, comfortable shoes with a round toe. Shoes with a sharp point (e.g. cowboy boots) are not allowed. If you still want to wear heeled shoes, choose low heels. If necessary, support your feet with an adapted arch support .

Exercises for hallux valgus


If you suffer from a foot bump but would rather postpone surgery, you can prevent further damage to the lump on your big toe by means of appropriate exercises. Regularly performing exercises with the feet is also good for people without hallux valgus. These foot exercises are mainly aimed at stimulating blood circulation and strengthening the muscles and joints of the feet. Not only can this be positive for the flexibility of the toes, but also for the ankle and the flexibility of the soles of the feet.


Some examples of such foot exercises:

  • “picking up” things with your toes: pick up a towel that has fallen on the floor with your toes
  • “folding” things with your toes: spread a towel on the floor and then fold it neatly again
  • Walk barefoot indoors as much as possible: this strengthens the natural flexibility of the feet
  • stand on your toes and lift the soles of your feet: this is good for the toes and blood circulation in the legs
  • Roll a ball around under your foot: this is an excellent massage for the foot
  • moving the toes and wiggling back and forth: good for strong and flexible muscles in the feet


Foot bump treatment


In severe cases, a surgical procedure can be performed in which the hallux valgus is treated surgically. The surgical intervention corrects the bones and tendons of the foot to place the big toe back in the correct position. Sometimes a piece of the resulting bump needs to be removed.


If hallux valgus causes severe pain, the doctor may prescribe painkillers and/or anti-inflammatories to reduce the pain. Some drugs are both anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Consider, for example, ibuprofen (including Brufen and Nurofen ), while other remedies such as paracetamol only have an analgesic effect. The more crooked the big toe is, the more severe the pain and the stronger the painkiller will need to be.

Toe corrector

A crooked big toe can usually be treated effectively by means of a splint, an orthosis or a so-called spacer to straighten the toe and force it back into a better position. The position of the foot and toe can also be corrected. with the help of orthopedic insoles or with a toe corrector or toe spreader . In addition, an ankle sock with gel can also help to relieve the complaints of this foot lump.

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