One of the most frequent questions put to podiatrists is “what causes bunions?” This is a difficult question to answer because there are many different factors which can lead to this kind of deformity. There is some evidence to suggest that genetics may be to blame although it is unlikely that bunions are “inherited” from a parent. Overcrowding of the toes in tight footwear and high heels are also often cited as major factors behind the development of bunions; interestingly though bunions also occur in unshod populations. What is certain however is that in many cases the development of a bunion is related to the rolling in of the foot as we walk (this is known more correctly as pronation).

Excessive pronation can cause instability of the inside border of the foot (specifically the first metatarsal). This can cause an impingement of the big toe joint and prevent proper motion. It is thought that this “jamming up” of the joint can lead to osteoarthritis, joint pain and increasing deformity as the big toe drifts inwards. Fortunately there are several ways that we can help our patients to improve foot stability. Often a few exercises and advice on suitable footwear are all that is required. Insoles are another option; they provide the stability that your foot needs while maintaining optimal motion at the big toe joint. It is thought that freeing up the big-toe’s range of motion in this way is important in both preventing and alleviating painful bunions.

If you start to notice the first signs of a bunion forming or you are experiencing any of the above symptoms such as aching or pain in the big toe joints during or after activity, then we would recommend that you book an appointment with a Podiatrist so that the state of your toe joints can be assessed and an appropriate management plan put into place to reduce symptoms and slow down the progression of the deformity.

You can also help yourselves at home by wearing shoes that do not cramp the toes or are excessively high.

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