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Are Bunions Avoidable?

Your feet do so much for you — when you work hard, your feet work harder. Feet take the brunt of the abuse from our activities, whether it’s certain movements, working, or what we wear. At North Central Texas Foot & Ankle, with offices in Decatur and Roanoke, Texas, we think it’s important to take care of your feet for many reasons — but one major reason is preventing bunions.

This begs the question: are bunions avoidable? The answer is dependent on a few factors. In this blog, we go over some causes of bunions, and if you can prevent them.

What is a bunion?

You may wonder what a bunion is. A bunion is a bony protrusion that forms on the outside of your foot, due to some of the bones in the front part of your foot shifting out of place. When these bones — specifically, the first metatarsal and phalanx — shift, they cause your metatarsophalangeal joint to become inflamed and enlarged, leading to the development of a bunion.

Bunions typically form at the base of your big toe. However, they may also develop on the joint of your pinky toe. These are known as Tailor’s bunions, or bunionettes. Bunions develop slowly, so getting treatment for them sooner rather than later can make a big difference.

Avoidable causes

Good news! Some causes of bunions are avoidable. Footwear is a major cause of bunions, especially for women. Squeezing your feet into pointy-toed shoes or shoes that are ill-fitting can change the structure of your feet, as your big toe is pushed inward toward your second toe in order to fit the shape of the pointed or tight shoe. This leads to the formation of bunions. The most simple solution to this is to wear shoes that fit comfortably and allow room for your feet to exist the way they are. For women, avoiding pointy-toed shoes and heels is a great help.

Overpronation and subsequent gait issues are another avoidable cause of bunions. Overpronation means that as you move, your foot rolls inward. If you tend to overpronate, the outer part of your heel makes contact with the ground first, and your foot rolls inward on your arch. This motion flattens out your feet, making way for a variety of issues, including bunions. You can easily correct this problem with stability shoes, certain athletic shoes, or orthotic inserts.

Trauma to your feet can lead to bunions as well. Though trauma isn’t always avoidable, being aware of your surroundings, doing exercises that strengthen your feet, choosing the right shoes and replacing them when they become too worn, and avoiding running on uneven surfaces will help.

Unavoidable causes

Having an inherited structural defect, family history of bunions, or inherited arthritis can lead to bunions. These causes are unfortunately out of your control. In these cases, our board-certified podiatrists work with you to determine the best treatment. Treatment may include orthotics, changes in footwear, padding, splinting, or anti-inflammatory medications.

If conservative treatments like these aren’t effective, your best course of action may be a bunionectomy to get rid of the bony protrusion and realign your joint. Our excellent foot and ankle surgeons, Samantha Childers, DPM and Ricky Childers, DPM, rectify the issue and get you back on track to a pain-free, bunion-free life. Give one of our offices a call or request an appointment online.

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