Gout and bunions can cause similar symptoms, which may include pain in the big toe joint. However, healthcare professionals use different treatments for the two conditions.
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.
Gout is a
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.
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:
- stiffness or restricted motion in their big toe that may make it difficult to walk
- redness on lighter skin and inflammation
- hardened skin on the bottom of their foot
- small or large patches of rough, thick skin on the bunion, which doctors call corns and calluses
Bunion pain typically
People with gout usually have symptoms in one joint at a time. These may
- intense pain
Gout typically affects a person’s big toe joint. Sometimes it can affect other joints, such as:
- other toes
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
- a family history of bunions, which suggests genes may play a role in the condition’s development
- certain types of arthritis, such as:
- congenital anomalies in the toes and feet
- muscle imbalances in the foot due to other health conditions
- connective tissue disorders
- Down syndrome
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.
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,
Some other factors that may increase a person’s risk of gout include:
- older age
- family history of gout
- drinking alcohol or beverages with high fructose corn syrup, such as soda
- eating foods rich in purines, such as red meat and seafood
Living with certain medical conditions may also increase a person’s gout risk, such as:
- metabolic syndrome
- high blood pressure
- chronic kidney disease
- conditions that cause a person’s cells to rapidly turn over, such as:
- Lesch-Nyhan syndrome or Kelley-Seegmiller syndrome, in which a person’s body does not produce or have enough of the enzyme that regulates their uric acid levels
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.
- asking a person about their:
- medical history
- any medications they are taking
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.