To put it mildly, medical terminology can be confusing. While it’s never a medical professional’s intention, the use of medical jargon can make a simple problem sound much more complex than it really is. Such is the case with bunions. Indeed, the technical term for a bunion is “Hallux Valgus,” which is Latin for “big toe misalignment.” This means that there is no difference between a bunion vs hallux valgus. However, not all bunions occur near the big toe. And there are a number of different big toe or “hallux” conditions –– including hallux rigidus and hallux limitus. To put these issues to bed once and for all, today we’ll define each of them and explain what you as a patient need to know. Check it out here:
Bunions (Hallux Valgus)
Bunions are bony lumps that appear along the joint of the big toe. They form as a result of an imbalance within the foot. When muscles, tendons, and bones in the foot become misaligned, they can cause bunions to form along the big toe joint.
Bunions can sometimes be very painful, though this is not always the case. What’s more, bunions tend to get larger and more disruptive over time. Note here that the only way to get rid of a bunion is through surgical removal.
In addition to the “traditional” bunion that occurs along the side of the big toe, tailor’s bunions form along the side of the little toe. These bunions, also known as bunionettes, are typically smaller than other bunions, though they share essentially all of the other qualities of a “typical” bunion.
Hallux limitus refers to a general condition in which a person’s ability to move their big toe is limited. This term can encompass a number of symptoms including joint pain, trouble flexing the toe, numbness or tingling, and calluses on the toes. Remember also that an individual can experience both hallux limitus and a bunion (hallux valgus) at the same time. In fact, if a person is experiencing pain in their big toe joint, it could be a result of a bunion in the first place.
Hallux rigidus occurs when a person is no longer able to move their big toe joint at all. (Or when their ability to do so is extremely limited.) Often, hallux rigidus is used to describe arthritis in the big toe. And, unfortunately, it can also occur in conjunction with other foot problems like bunions, hammertoes, and bone spurs.
Diagnosing Foot Issues
As you may have noticed, there is a lot of overlap between different issues that can all affect the big toe joint. This is why it’s important to find a good podiatrist to help you identify, diagnose, and treat such issues. Ignoring a problem like bunions or arthritis in the foot can lead to greater pain and damage in the future. Lastly, don’t try to diagnose or treat any of these issues on your own because products like splints, pads, and sleeves can only provide temporary relief –– at best.
No matter what foot issue you’re currently experiencing, our team at Northwest Surgery Center is ready to help you find meaningful pain relief ASAP. We’re experts in the field of minimally invasive surgery, and it’s our goal to help people with bunions, hammertoes, and other common foot conditions get back to living their best lives. Contact us here to learn more or to schedule a consultation.