What is the main cause of bunions?

Answered by Willian Lymon

Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, are primarily caused by prolonged pressure on the feet that compresses the big toe and pushes it towards the second toe. This pressure can be a result of various factors, including genetics, foot structure, footwear choices, and certain medical conditions.

Genetics play a significant role in the development of bunions. If your parents or close family members have bunions, you are more likely to develop them as well. This suggests that there may be inherited foot structures or biomechanical abnormalities that contribute to the condition.

Foot structure is another important factor. Some people have a naturally flat foot or an excessively flexible joint, which can increase the risk of developing bunions. These structural variations can affect the way weight is distributed on the foot, leading to an imbalance and placing excess pressure on the big toe joint.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes is a common cause of bunions. Shoes that are tight, narrow, or have a pointed toe box can squeeze the toes together, forcing the big toe into an unnatural position. High-heeled shoes, especially those with a narrow and tapered toe box, can be particularly problematic as they place additional pressure on the front of the foot.

Certain medical conditions, such as arthritis, can also contribute to the development of bunions. Arthritis causes inflammation and joint damage, which can lead to deformities in the foot and exacerbate the formation of bunions.

It is important to note that while these factors contribute to the development of bunions, they do not guarantee their occurrence. Some individuals may have all the risk factors but never develop bunions, while others may develop them without any identifiable risk factors.

In my personal experience as a healthcare professional, I have seen many patients who have developed bunions due to a combination of factors. For example, one patient had a family history of bunions, wore tight-fitting shoes for many years, and had a structural abnormality in their foot. This combination of factors led to the development of painful bunions that required intervention.

To summarize, the main cause of bunions is prolonged pressure on the feet, which pushes the big toe towards the second toe. This pressure can be a result of genetics, foot structure, footwear choices, and certain medical conditions. It is important to address these contributing factors to prevent or manage bunions effectively.