Hallux valgus: 3 symptoms to never ignore

The hallux valgus, or “onion,” is a deviation to the outside of the big toe. It is favored by several factors such as heredity, age, or wearing high-heeled and narrow-toed shoes. Hallux valgus is often painful when the deformity becomes significant.


The hallux valgus, also known as “onion”, is an abnormal deviation from the big toe to the second toe (i.e. outwards). The bone called “first metatarsal” moves opposite towards the inside of the foot and the joint between the metatarsal and the first phalanx of the big toe (metatarso-phalangeal joint) becomes very protruding, forming a lump on the inner edge front foot.

This deviation of the big toe therefore results in a deformation of the forefoot (see diagram below) and, therefore, difficulty scrubbing.

Hallux valgus is sometimes totally painless, but it is often painful to walk. Indeed, the deformed and protruding area (the “onion”) rubs into the shoe and a cal (hard thickening of the skin) develops.
This friction can create an inflammation of the envelope of the metatarso-phalangian joint (bursitis) and the “onion” becomes red, hot and painful. This makes it difficult to put on your shoes.

Moreover, this frequent deformation of the forefoot has an impact on the other toes which, driven by the first, curl up in ‘claws’.


The severity of the hallux valgus depends on the angle of the deviation and the extent of the other foot damage.

The light hallux valgus: the deflection is less than 20 degrees. The phalanx of the big toe and the metatarsal are still properly interlocked.
The moderate hallux valgus: the deviation is between 20 and 40 degrees. The big toe rotates to the outside of the foot, the phalanx is moved in relation to the metatarsal and no longer fits properly. The big toe comes into conflict with the second toe.
The severe hallux valgus: the angle of the deviation is greater than 40 degrees. The big toe passes below or above the second toe. Osteoarthritis accentuates the deviation, causing a complete dislocation of the joint of the big toe which loses its functionality.

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