Harrison Podiatry

Bunons and Other Toe Deformities

The function of the toes, especially the big toe, is to help us to balance and to propel us forward during walking or running.

There are fourteen bones in the toes, the big toe has two bones, the others have three, which are amongst the smallest bones in the body. It is not surprising, therefore, that things can and do go wrong with them. Some problems begin in childhood and may go unnoticed. Others begin in later life, perhaps as a result of injury or the added pressure of incorrectly fitting footwear or due to a biomechanical abnormality.


You can control a small amount of callus by gently rubbing with a pumice stone every time you take a bath. Rubbing a water based moisturising cream, like Aqueous Cream B.P. into the skin will also help. If the callus is burning and painful, you should consult your Podiatrist who will painlessly remove the callus and then apply soft padding to redistribute the weight and protect you. Your feet will feel much better immediately.


Normally, the big toe points straight ahead, but in this condition, more correctly called, Hallux Valgus, the toe curves towards the other toes and the big toe joint becomes swollen and tender, making walking difficult and painful. Often the second toe becomes “hammered” too and corns develop on both the bunion and second toe. Some people are more likely to develop bunions because of a “family weakness” because they chose the wrong mother or father!

Once formed, you can help to stop the bunion getting worse by wearing shoes with a straight inside edge. Your Podiatrist can remove any corns and apply suitable protective padding. He can also recommend shoe adaptations, like having a balloon patch fitted to the shoe, which will give more room for the painful joint. In severe cases surgery is necessary to realign the big toe and your Podiatrist will be able to refer you to a suitable Consultant.

Hallux Rigidus

This complaint is more common in men. Instead of bending normally, the big toe joint stiffens and forms a bony bump on the top of the joint which makes the “pushing-off” motion in walking, difficult and sometimes painful. This condition has often been caused by stubbing the toe or by an old sporting injury. Wearing low heels and firm soles will act as a splint. Sometimes a balloon patch is required and often a “rocker” sole is added to the shoe to enable the foot to pivot, but occasionally, surgery is required to fuse the joint.

Smaller Toes

Another common complaint is “Hammer Toes”. The toe most affected is the second toe which becomes bent-up in a “V” shape and can’t straighten out when walking. Hard corns develop where the toe rubs against the shoe. Your Podiatrist can remove the corns and fit suitable protective padding.

Some people are born with “Claw Toes” where they walk on the tips of the toes. Your Podiatrist can lift these toes with suitable padding to make them comfortable.

Many babies are born with toes which don’t lie flat or are retracted. These problems usually clear-up as the baby grows, but if the condition persists, muscle strengthening exercises may help or your Podiatrist can make suitable silicone orthoses to correct the problem.