A bunion is an abnormal, bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. Your big toe joint becomes enlarged, forcing the toe to crowd against your other toes. This puts pressure on your big toe joint, pushing it outward beyond the normal profile of your foot, and resulting in pain. Bunions can also occur on the joint of your little toe (bunionette).
Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but a common cause is wearing shoes that fit too tightly. They can also develop as a result of inherited structural defect, injury, stress on your foot or another medical condition.
Often, treatment involves conservative steps that may include changing your shoes, padding your bunion and wearing shoe inserts. Severe cases of bunions may require surgery to relieve the pain.
A hammertoe is a toe that’s curled due to a bend in the middle joint of a toe. Mallet toe is similar, but affects the upper joint of a toe. Otherwise, any differences between hammertoe and mallet toe are subtle.
Both hammertoe and mallet toe are commonly caused by shoes that are too short or heels that are too high. Under these conditions, your toe may be forced against the front of your shoe, resulting in an unnatural bending of your toe and a hammer-like or claw-like appearance.
Relieving the pain and pressure of hammertoe and mallet toe may involve changing your footwear and wearing shoe inserts. If you have a more severe case of hammertoe or mallet toe, you may need surgery to experience relief.