A bunion forms on the outside of your foot as a result of changes inside your foot involving the first metatarsal bone and the big toe.
Your big toe is supposed to be straight and aligned perfectly with the first metatarsal bone in your foot. But if there’s abnormal bone growth at the joint, the metatarsal bone may turn outward, causing the big toe to turn inward, and consequently, a bump, or bunion, forms on the outside of the foot.
The formation of a bunion, known medically as hallux valgus, is related to the following factors:
HEREDITY and BUNIONS The relationship between bunions and heredity has been confusing and controversial in the past, but there is now more understanding of the role of family history in the development of hallux valgus.
The general consensus now in the medical profession is that, while bunions themselves are not hereditary, a certain kind of bone structure in a person’s foot that increases the likelihood of bunion development is indeed tied to genetics.
Also, the presence of ligaments that are unusually flexible is another inherited trait that has been connected to the formation of bunions at some point in a person’s life.
Pressure the forefoot and toes receive from tight shoes or constant prolonged standing or high impact aggravate the inherited conditions described above and increase the likelihood of hallux valgus.
Another particular genetic predisposition for bunions is flat feet. Almost all babies are born with flat feet, and naturally develop arches as they grow into childhood. If your arches did not develop adequately, then you are at risk for having foot problems throughout your life.
ARTHRITIS and BUNIONS Many people assume that getting older is a major risk factor for getting bunions, but the relationship between these two issues is not so direct. Hallux valgus is indeed associated with the elderly, but that is because it can be a by-product of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. If the arthritis affects the joint of the big toe, then a foot bunion can develop.
However, it is not correct that advancing age only by itself results in the growth of these unsightly, often painful bumps on the side of a person’s feet. Don’t assume that your grandmother will get bunions as she ages only because she’s getting older. But if she has osteoarthritis in her feet, she is definitely at risk of this foot disorder.
SHOES and BUNIONS Whatever your genetic predisposition, many doctors believe that the type of shoes you wear is the most important factor in determining the overall health of your feet.
It’s very likely you are a woman if you are reading this, because women suffer ten times more from bunions than men do. Can you imagine why? Shoes, ladies…it’s the shoes!
Shoes that are too tight but that we can’t resist wearing anyway because they go so perfectly with a favorite outfit, or shoes our feet were just not designed to fit into…such as high heels….are the main reason for the development of bunions and other foot problems. It would be really great if we could change our perception and attitudes about what is makes an attractive shoes, but personally I’m not holding my breath on this score.
The fact is you may have inherited the type of abnormal bone structure in your feet that makes bunions more likely than not, but you could go your whole life without even knowing it or without any kind of foot problem at all. But, if you frequently cram your feet into tight shoes, you are likely to know it soon enough, because those tight shoes are like an open invitation for these unsightly, painful bumps to develop.
Therefore, your grandmother, who may have worn comfortable shoes most of her life that give her feet plenty of room, may escape having bunions, while you in your 20s or 30s may not. Ladies, no matter how elegant or sexy they are, it’s just a fact that shoes with pointed toes, especially high heels with pointed toes are bad news for your feet.
Boots with heels are another type of shoe that can cause foot problems, so in the winter you have to be careful with this kind of footwear.
Think about how high heels and boots are designed. They both have a sloping foot bed and a narrow toe box. The toes get squeezed together because the slope causes the front of the foot to be pushed hard into the narrow toe box. There’s just no way this kind of footwear can be good for your feet.
If you can’t resist wearing pointed shoes, high heels or boots with heels, please consider yourself forewarned. At least, cut back on how often you “indulge” in this kind of footwear. You will be doing your feet – and yourself- a favor! If you could look ahead to the possibly of foot surgery and the lengthy time it sometimes takes to recover from that, you might realize that high heels with pointed toes are just not worth it. Bunion prevention begins with shoes that are kind to your feet.
LIFESTYLE / OCCUPATIONS and BUNIONS Actually, any kind of unnatural pressure on the foot that lasts over an extended period of time can result in a bunion. This means that although shoes that are damaging to your feet are the main non-genetic cause of hallux valgus, anyone with an occupation or lifestyle that requires constant pressure on the feet may be prone to this kind of foot problem.
If your job requires that you stand for long periods of time, then you may be a greater risk. By the same token, dancers and athletes are particularly vulnerable. Actually, dancers and athletes are vulnerable to all kinds of foot disorders, and need to be constantly alert to onset of any such problems. As with any health issue, the sooner it is noticed and addressed, the better.
CAUSES OF BUNIONS CONCLUSION
To recap, hallux valgus is an indication of abnormal bone formation around the big toe joint. You may be born with the type of bone structure which will predispose you to developing bunions. If so, excessive pressure on your feet over time, most often from shoes that are too tight, aggravates this condition.
Occupations requiring extended periods of standing or which place unusual stress on the ligaments and tendons in your feet, such as ballet dancing or athletics, can result in the development of bunions. Arthritis also put a person at high risk for this serious foot problem.
Hopefully, this article has answered your questions about the cause of bunions and how you can reduce your risk of getting this painful foot disorder.