Bunions Symptoms & Causes

What causes bunions?

If your teenager has a bunion, chances are he or she is wearing shoes that are too tight, with a narrow toe box and/or with an elevated heel. (Girls are three times more likely than boys to get adolescent bunions).

Although bunions can be an inherited condition that occurs in families, shoes that are too small are the primary cause of bunions and other disabling foot problems such as corns, calluses and hammertoes. An underlying neurological disorder, such as cerebral palsy, can also predispose a child to developing bunions.

What are the symptoms of bunions?

The symptoms of adolescent bunions are as follows: 

  • swelling around the base of the big toe
  • a sore bump
  • pain and trouble wearing shoes
  • pain when walking

The symptoms of bunions may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How does a doctor know my child has a bunion?

An evaluation should be performed by a pediatric orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon will want to take a medical history and will perform a very careful physical examination. This will involve observing your child's

  • foot alignment
  • weight-bearing alignment
  • walking alignment
  • mobility of the affected joint

The surgeon will also want to know what kind of shoes your child wears and what types of shoes most aggravate the symptoms. He or she will try to determine whether any pain caused by the bunion is due to specific activities and whether the bunion is causing any functional limitations.

X-ray imaging may be used to help determine the extent of the damage and deformity of the toe joint.