There are two main types of big toe deformities that are often referred to as bunions, although they are different conditions. They are:

  • Hallux valgus. This is what most people mean when they talk about a bunion. It appears as a "bump" on the side of the big toe. This bump reflects changes inside the framework of the foot. The big toe leans toward the second toe instead of pointing straight ahead.
  • Hallux rigidus. This term refers to a form of degenerative arthritis in the big toe that causes pain and stiffness in the joint. Over time, it gets increasingly harder to bend the toe. In some cases, a bone spur forms on the big toe that resembles a bunion, but is not. People with bunions also sometimes develop this type of arthritis, but it can also occur with no deformity whatsoever.

If you have pain and stiffness in your big toe, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis. Bunions and arthritis are treated in different ways.