Gout and bunions can cause similar symptoms, including pain in the big toe joint. However, bunion symptoms usually start slowly, while gout symptoms typically flare up suddenly.

Bunions are painful bony lumps with the medical name hallux valgus. They slowly form over time on the side of a person’s feet, at their big toe joint.

The condition is typically more common in women than men. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 70% of people with bunions have a family history of the condition.

Gout is a common form of arthritis that often affects a person’s big toe joint. People with gout often experience symptoms that tend to come and go over time. These symptoms may include swelling and pain in a joint.

Some conditions and lifestyle choices can increase a person’s risk of having gout. Men are also three times more likely than women to develop the condition.

This article explores the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatments of gout vs bunions. It also discusses when to speak with a doctor.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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People with bunions and gout may experience a few similar symptoms.


People with bunions have a visible bump on the inside of their foot that appears near the big toe joint. Other symptoms a person with bunions may experience include:

Bunion pain typically worsens slowly over time.


People with gout usually have symptoms in one joint at a time. These may include:

Gout typically affects a person’s big toe joint. Sometimes it can affect other joints, such as:

  • other toes
  • knees
  • ankles

People with gout often have symptoms that come and go in a pattern that healthcare professionals may refer to as flares and remission.

Gout symptoms typically start suddenly in a flare, which may last days or weeks. Remission may last weeks, months, or years before another flare occurs. During periods of remission, a person does not experience any symptoms.

While bunions and gout may lead to some similar symptoms, they are conditions with distinct causes.


Healthcare professionals do not know exactly why bunions form. However, a person may be more likely to develop bunions if they have:

Bunions are also common in people who wear tight shoes and shoes with heels. However, researchers suggest that rather than causing bunions, wearing these types of shoes may worsen underlying bone irregularities that may contribute to the condition.


If a person has high levels of uric acid, they may develop a condition called hyperuricemia, which may, in turn, cause gout.

Uric acid comes from a person’s body and certain foods they may eat. If a person has too much uric acid in their body, uric acid crystals build up in their blood, tissues, and joints, often leading to symptoms of gout.

Some other factors that may increase a person’s risk of gout include:

Living with certain medical conditions may also increase a person’s gout risk, such as:

Some medications may increase a person’s risk of developing gout, including:

If a person is unsure if they have a bunion or gout, they should speak with a healthcare professional who can accurately diagnose and treat a person’s condition.

Doctors may diagnose bunions and gout in similar ways by:

  • asking a person about their:
    • medical history
    • any medications they are taking
    • symptoms
  • examining a person’s foot
  • taking an X-ray of the foot

However, doctors can only diagnose a person’s gout during a flare. They may also order lab tests, such as blood tests, to confirm whether a person has uric acid crystals in their affected joint.

Healthcare professionals treat bunions and gout in different ways.


Treatments for bunions may include:

  • changing footwear, for example, by trying wider shoes that do not compress the toes
  • using shoe padding and other orthotics
  • taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or prescription medications to treat pain and swelling
  • undergoing surgery to bring the big toe back into position

People who do not experience bunion pain may not require treatment.


While there is no cure for gout, doctors typically treat gout symptoms with medication, including:

  • NSAIDs
  • colchicine
  • corticosteroids
  • medications that help lower uric acid levels, such as uricase, xanthine oxidase inhibitors, and uricosuric agents

Healthcare professionals may also recommend a person makes diet and lifestyle changes.

People should speak with a doctor if they are experiencing pain or swelling in their feet that does not go away or causes difficulty when they walk.

Doctors may treat bunions with surgery or other simple methods. However, there is no cure for gout. Untreated gout can worsen and cause complications, such as:

  • joint damage
  • tophi, which are painful white lumps where uric acid crystals form under a person’s skin
  • kidney stones

Therefore, a person should speak with a healthcare professional if they think they may be experiencing gout or bunions. A doctor can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment.

Gout and bunions may share similar symptoms. However, they both have different causes and risk factors.

Therefore, a person should speak with a healthcare professional for diagnosis if they think they may have either condition. Doctors can provide appropriate treatment once they have identified the underlying cause of a person’s symptoms.

Bunion treatment may entail wearing different types of shoes, taking medications to manage pain, or surgery, in some cases. Gout treatment may involve taking various medications and making diet and lifestyle modifications.