Shoes or Your Parents: What Causes Bunions

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Shoes or Your Parents: What Causes Bunions

Shoes or Your Parents: What Causes Bunions

A large bump emerging from the base of your big toe is likely a bunion, or hallux valgus. Bunions form as a result of bone or tissue at the joint of the big toe that’s moved out of place. Bunions can be painful and disfiguring, making you feel self-conscious in sandals and uncomfortable in fitted shoes.

You may have heard that you should avoid narrow-toed high heels because this fashion choice may put abnormal pressure on the joint and cause it to move abnormally. Although high heels can cause a number of biomechanical problems that affect your back, hips, ankles, and feet, they aren’t the primary reason you develop bunions. Research points to genetics as the primary reason people develop common foot disorders, including bunions.


Bunions are common, with more than 30% of older adults having them. They develop over time, which makes it seem like shoes and habits like standing for long periods of time as well as inflexibility and arthritis in your feet seem to be the major cause.

However, research from the journal Arthritis Care & Research recently published that foot issues, such as bunions, are inherited. Habits, shoes, and health can affect the speed of their development and their severity, but it’s really your parents or grandparents who deserve the credit for your bunions.

Bunions tend to occur in white adults of European descent. Women are more likely to develop bunions as compared to men, especially as they get older.


Shoes do aggravate bunion development, if your genetics make you susceptible to them. Tight shoes or those that are too small can crowd your toes together and put pressure on your big toe. High heels or pointy-toed shoes can force your toes to squeeze together, which may also accelerate bunion development.


You may not be able to prevent bunion development altogether, but you can relieve the pain and pressure on the toe joint that contributes to their development.  Maintaining a healthy weight helps keep pressure off the toe joints. Protect the bunion with special adhesive pads, available at drugstores. These help reduce friction and pressure, which can cause pain.

Proper fitting shoes that are loose in the toe area and inserts that help position the foot correctly can also help. The team at Go Feet can make suggestions for both shoes and inserts.


If you have an especially large bunion that is causing severe pain and affecting your other toes’ health, the doctors at Go Feet may recommend surgery. Although many types of bunion surgery are available and the type recommended depends on your particular condition, the main goal is to reset your big toe in its proper position. The soft tissue, consisting of ligaments, tendons, and nerves, are also put back into their correct place. The bump caused by your toe joint pushing against the side of your foot is also removed.

Go Feet offers comprehensive podiatry care, including evaluation and treatment for bunions. Call the office, or book an appointment online today.