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Bunion vs. Gout: What Is the Difference?

Bunions and gout are two of the most common causes of pain in the big toes. Understanding how they differ will help determine treatment approach & aid recovery.

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published December 28, 2021.

People have pain in the big toes for different reasons, and bunions and gout are two of the most common. While their presentation is similar, gout shouldn't be mistaken for bunions as they aren't the same. Understanding how they differ will help determine the direction of treatment and aid proper recovery.

Symptoms of Bunions and Gout


Persistent or intermittent pain in the metatarsophalangeal joint is a symptom of bunions. Likewise, an elevated bump on the outside of the base of your big toe, calluses (or corns), and stiffness result from bunions. When not managed early, it can also lead to deformity and itchy swelling.

Female feet with protruding bunions


While bunion pain comes and goes, gout pain is localized. Also, the pain is often intense and most common at night. However, its effect is usually widespread systemically, meaning pain may not be restricted to the toes. It is also associated with the classic signs of inflammation like swelling around the joint, redness, tenderness, and warmth. Lastly, it also causes stiffness in the metatarsophalangeal joint.

Male feet with inflamed gout on right foot

Causes of Bunions and Gout


Common factors that can cause bunions are:

  • Heredity conditions
  • Foot injuries
  • Congenital foot deformities
  • Ill-fitting shoes


On the other hand, gout is caused by the accumulation of an excess of uric acid in the blood known as Hyperuricemia. Risk factors that can predispose an individual to hyperuricemia include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Exposure to lead, medications, weight
  • Other health conditions like renal insufficiency and other kidney conditions

Treatment of Bunions and Gout

While inflamed gout can easily be treated with medications such as NSAIDs, corticosteroids, and lifestyle changes, treatment of bunions is a bit more complicated. To treat bunions, you can use ice packs and NSAIDs to combat the inflammation. Additionally, taping, orthotics, and shoe adjustments can help combat bunions.