What is the Main Cause of Bunions?
posted: Mar. 28, 2023.
A bunion is a bony protrusion on the side of the foot where the big toe bones meet the foot bones.
Often a painful condition, this unnatural positioning of the bones can make it painful to walk or stand. When well advanced, bunions, or hallux valgus, require treatment and, in some cases, surgical treatment.
One question that people with bunions might have is: what is the main cause of bunions? While some people develop bunions in their advanced years, others might be prone to get bunions starting from an earlier age.
The answer to this question is fourfold: hereditary, mechanical, footwear, and disease.
Before proceeding, it is important to point out that these factors are both causative and risk factors, meaning they might cause bunions directly (e.g., footwear) or indirectly (e.g., hereditary).
Let us dive in.
Scientists believe hereditary factors like flatfoot might contribute to the likelihood of a person developing bunions.
Some inherited traits that could contribute to the formation of bunions are the shape of the foot, foot mechanics, and growth factors (e.g., congenital and juvenile hallux valgus).
Although scientists have not identified the genes responsible, research findings point to a linkage between a history of bunions in one’s family and the formation of bunions.
If individuals in your direct family line developed bunions, you or someone else in your family might develop bunions.
How a person walks can contribute to the formation of bunions. These foot mechanics, as they are called, dictate the posture and gait of someone’s walking mechanics.
While some aspects of foot mechanics are learned, many are inherited through genes.
For example, genes dictate the height and weight of an individual, the shape of the foot, and their inherited foot mechanics.
Someone with foot mechanics that favor bunion formation has an increased chance of developing bunions.
Tight footwear is the leading cause of bunions, especially in severe cases.
When an individual wears tight shoes, primarily those with a narrow or pointed toe box, it forces the big toe bones into an unnatural posture, pushing them up against the second toe.
Wearing such shoes for prolonged periods can permanently deform the toes, causing severe bunions that may require surgery to rectify.
Rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases that affect the joints can also lead to the formation of bunions.
When the joint mechanics become compromised, the toes can become deformed, leading to bunions and other foot deformities like hammertoes and crooked toes.
In such cases, bunions may form because of the realignment of the toes, which creates an unnatural posture and worsen due to foot mechanics.
The main cause of bunions can be one or a combination of the abovementioned factors. The fact is that scientists do not know what causes bunions exactly. However, they are sure that these factors contribute to the formation of bunions.
If you are uncertain of what is contributing to the formation of your bunions, speak with your podiatrist today. They will analyze the various risk factors that might affect you and provide treatment options like minimally invasive bunion surgery, a change in footwear, or custom-made orthotics.