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Foot Bone or Joint Injury

Bunion Pain: Differential Diagnosis

Minute Read


Posted 6 months ago


Last updated: 04/12/2022


by James McCormack

Corn vs Bunion

A bunion is a change in the position of the big toe joint away from the midline, and in severe cases, it crosses over the 2nd toe. Corn is the result of excess pressure on any area of the foot. The big toe is generally on the underside of the big toe, and unlike a callus, it is circular with the hard skin growing inward from the centre of the corn like a pyramid, making it painful to touch.

A bunion is treated with Physical Therapy, while a corn is treated using a pummel stone or, in severe cases, by a chiropodist.

picture of bunions

Bunion vs Callus

A callus differs from a bunion in that a callus is the accumulation of hard skin on the big toe joint, whereas a bunion is the deviation of the big toe joint away from the midline. A callus and a bunion can come hand in hand, but treatment for a callus can be with regular moisturising of the foot, while a bunion should be seen clinically by a Physical Therapist.

Bunion Vs Bone Spur

A bone spur is a bone growth that occurs in joints for various reasons, such as microtrauma or arthritis. This bony growth is often in the shape of a spur, hence the name, whereas a bunion is a structural change in the angulation of the big toe.

If a bony spur is persistently painful, it may be arthroscopically removed while a bunion is treated with Physical Therapy.

Related Article: How to shrink a Bunion Naturally 

Gout vs Bunion

Gout is a prevalent but complex form of arthritis that can affect people of any age and is most commonly seen in the big toe joint. It is excruciatingly painful where the big toe is constantly painful and highly sensitive to touch, with the joint being red and swollen. Symptoms can last a few days up to a few weeks, and they are usually caused by lifestyle influences such as high red meat consumption. A bunion is a hereditary condition that you can be born with or develop over time due to poorly fitted shoes or issues with a person’s biomechanics. Symptoms are mechanical and pain-free at rest rather than the constant pain experienced with an episode of gout.

Picture of the difference between Gout and a Bunion

Hammer Toe vs Bunion

Hammer’s toes are a condition that affects the 2nd, 3rd or 4th toes where the toes claw into a shortened position. It results from biomechanical faults in someone’s gait or poor footwear, whereas a bunion is a change in the position of the big toe joint.

Hammertoes can be treated conservatively with exercises, splints and the correct footwear choices.

Hallux Rigidus vs Bunion

Hallux Rigidus is a condition affecting the big toe joint that causes it to be extremely stiff. This is a condition that someone can be born with or develop if the big toe joint becomes arthritis. A bunion is a structural change in the position of the big toe where it drifts away from the midline, a hallux rigidus can cause this,s but it is a less common cause of bunions.

Related Article: Hallux Rigidus: Symptoms and Treatment

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

Related Articles:

3 Easy Steps to Prevent Bunions
Best Sandals for Bunions
Best Bunion Correctors

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