Gout Vs Bunion: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More

Gout Vs Bunion Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and More

Due to overlapping symptoms people often get confused between gout and bunion. Sometimes what appears as bunion is nothing but a more critical underlying medical issue, gout. Therefore, understanding the difference between gout and bunion is essential to get the right line of treatment.

Often, when the pain is accompanied by swelling and redness, people mistake it for a bunion and start taking medications for the same. While sometimes it could be true, other times it could be because of gout.

Let’s delve into both these conditions individually and understand the points that differentiate between them.

What is GOUT?


Gout is an inflammatory arthritis that cause pain and swelling in joints (1). It happens when urate crystals accumulate in the joints. If it happens around the big toe and cause pain, people mistake it for bunion.


  • Pain in the joints, which is not limited only to the big toe
  • Inflammation around the joints causes redness, tenderness, and swelling.
  • Difficulty in walking when it occurs in the foot or toe


When the urate crystals accumulate in the joints, at any part of the body, it causes gout. It happens when the kidney is not able to process uric acid or the body is producing too much of it. (2)

As the level of uric acid builds up, urate crystals start forming and accumulating in the joints, leading to pain, swelling, and other symptoms.

What is BUNION?


Medically called hallux valgus, a bunion is a bony bump that forms around the big toe joint (3). Typically, it forms on the inside edge of the big toe.


  • Bony bump formation bulging from the inside edge of the big toe
  • Persistent pain in the big toe joint
  • Swelling, redness, and tenderness
  • Development of corns due to constant friction of shoes
  • Difficulty in walking


A bunion results when the big toe pushes against the second toe, forcing the joint at the big toe to protrude out in a bony and bumpy form. There is no reason why it happens, but people with a family history often get bunions (4).

Other factors that can contribute to bunion include the following-

  • Injury
  • Congenital defect
  • Heredity
  • Wearing ill-fitted or high heels footwear

Below is the table differentiating between gout and bunion under different categories-

DefinitionGout is a form of arthritis caused by excess uric acid in the bloodstream, leading to the formation of urate crystals in joints, often the big toe joint.A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe, caused by the misalignment of bones.
CauseExcess uric acid accumulation, which may be due to genetics, diet high in purines, obesity, certain medications, or medical conditions.Often caused by wearing tight or narrow shoes, inherited structural foot defects, or certain medical conditions like arthritis.
SymptomsSudden and severe pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in joints, commonly the big toe joint; may also affect other joints like ankles, knees, elbows, or fingers.Bump or protrusion at the base of the big toe, pain or soreness at the affected joint, swelling, redness, stiffness, and difficulty wearing shoes.
TriggersHigh-purine diet, alcohol consumption, dehydration, stress, certain medications (e.g., diuretics), surgery, trauma, or illness.Wearing tight or narrow shoes, high heels, pointed shoes, foot injuries, or foot deformities.
DiagnosisMedical history, physical examination, blood tests (uric acid levels), joint fluid analysis, and imaging tests like X-rays or ultrasound.Visual examination by a healthcare professional, X-rays to assess the severity of misalignment and joint damage.
TreatmentMedications to relieve pain and inflammation (e.g., NSAIDs, corticosteroids, colchicine), lifestyle changes (e.g., diet modifications, hydration), and long-term management to reduce uric acid levels (e.g., urate-lowering drugs).Non-surgical treatments include wearing comfortable shoes, padding or splinting, orthotic devices, pain relievers, ice packs, and bunion pads. Surgery may be necessary for severe cases to realign bones or remove the bunion.
ComplicationsRecurrent gout attacks, joint damage, tophi (lumps of urate crystals under the skin), kidney stones, and chronic kidney disease.Persistent pain, difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot, development of hammertoe or other foot deformities, and bursitis (inflammation of fluid-filled sacs near the joint).
PreventionMaintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, staying hydrated, limiting alcohol consumption, managing weight, and avoiding triggers.Wearing comfortable shoes with adequate space for toes, avoiding high heels or pointed shoes, using shoe inserts or orthotics for proper foot support, and addressing foot problems early.

How to Diagnose Gout and Bunion?


To diagnose gout, the doctors perform blood tests to check the level of uric acid. If its level is more than the typical range, it indicates that swelling and pain in the joints are due to gout.

Additionally, the doctor may perform urine tests, joint fluid tests, ultrasounds, and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.


For bunions, a physical examination is sufficient. If pain and swelling are extreme and causing extreme difficulty in moving, the doctor may perform an X-ray.

What Are the Treatment Options for Gout and Bunion?


For gout, the doctor may recommend prescription drugs (anti-inflammatory and pain relief) to manage the symptoms. In severe cases, steroids like prednisone are also recommended.

Besides medications, limiting the intake of foods that contribute to uric acid in the blood, regular exercise, and weight loss are also advised.


Often, bunions are not harmful and don’t require treatment. However, if they are causing pain, you can apply ice packs to reduce inflammation and pain. Over-the-counter medications are also given to manage the symptoms.

To reduce difficulty in walking you may start using shoe inserts or shoes with enough room for the toes, and the bony growth. In extreme cases, surgical removal of the protruding bone is recommended.


Even though it is tricky to differentiate between gout and bunion, consulting the doctor is helpful. Since the symptoms of both the conditions are the same, that is, pain and inflammation, it will be good to consult the doctor to get the right treatment at the right time.

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