Common Foot Problems that Many People Will Mistake for a Bunion June 14 2018

Bunions can be an uncomfortable and quite annoying foot problem, but did you know that sometimes what you might be thinking is a bunion is something completely different? As it turns out there are many other foot problems whose symptoms or appearance is similar to what you get when you have bunions.

Bunions will occur as a result of misalignment of the joint on your big toe which causes the bone to push outwards.  But they come in various sizes and so it might not always be easy to tell whether your particular foot problem is a bunion or not. Hence, before you schedule that bunionectomy surgery you should be certain that what you have is a bunion and not one of the following other conditions.

#1 Gout

When you have got gout your big toe will become red, hot and swollen along the joint. And since bunions also tend to become reddish and the protrusion looks like swelling, many people often confuse the two common foot problems. Gout comes from an overabundance of uric acid in the bloodstream that leads to the development of sharp crystals that result in intense pain in your big toe. It can be a hard condition to diagnose because there are almost no changes in the blood but an X-ray might produce some indication changes in the toe as a result of gout.

#2 Bursitis

If you overuse your feet or subject them to excessive external pressure you are likely to develop bursitis which is characterized by redness and swelling around the toes. The joint on your big toe is more prone to bursitis as it has to bear the entire weight of the body when walking or standing and also has to deal with constant irritation from footwear. But, unlike bunions, bursitis is just trapped fluid between the skin and bone around the big toe joint. However, it is also important to note that if you have a bunion you will be more susceptible to developing bursitis.

#3 Bony Enlargements

A common misconception with bunions is that they are enlargement or outgrowth of the bones which you can shave off with surgery. But, this is not true as bunions are a misalignment of the big toe joints. However, bony prominence or enlargements are also a common foot problem that can occur with or without bunions. Although you can relieve bunion pain without surgery by changing your footwear and by doing some stretches, the same is not true with bony protrusions. Getting an X-ray is the best way to diagnose whether you have a bony enlargement or if it is just a bunion.

#4 Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are not entirely a foot problem as they can occur all over the body. They are firm and fluid-filled sacs which many people will confuse with bunions when they occur in the big toe.  Like bunions, they will occur around joints and will in most instances connect to the joint and this, in turn, is what causes the accumulation of the fluid. But, you can easily tell them apart from bunions by their feel. Ganglion cysts have a relatively softer feel when you compare them to bunions which tend to feel hard to the touch. Also, the fluid-filled nature of ganglion cysts means that they will transilluminate when you hold a light against them which is not the case with bunions.

#5 Arthritis of the Big Toe Joint

Arthritis is a common foot problem but when it occurs on the big toe joint it is easy to confuse it with bunions as they are very similar in appearance. One of the main characteristics is the occurrence of heel spurs that form around the joint which is a result of the degenerating cartilage. These bone spurs are often large and they can also be quite painful just like bunions. But, the spurs that result from arthritis will occur at the top of the big toe joint, unlike bunions which tend to be more prominent on the side of the big toe joint.


Bunions can be annoying and can also be quite painful. Also, they will affect everything from how you walk to your choice of footwear, and so it is always good to get some medical help the soonest possible. But, before you decide to go for a surgery, you should first try some home remedies and also be certain that you have bunions and not one of the five other foot problems above that are often confused with bunions.

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