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Common Causes of Bunions

Bunions: They’re more than just an aesthetic issue. You may have noticed a slow development of your bunion over time, but weren’t sure what it was. Not only can it get in the way of wearing your favorite pair of cute shoes, but it can also become painful and make it difficult to move your big toe or comfortably wear shoes at all.

You may be wondering how you developed bunions in the first place, and what you can do to treat them. Our team at North Central Texas Foot & Ankle, with offices in Decatur and Roanoke, Texas, has the answers! In this blog, we discuss the common causes of bunions and the treatments we provide.

What are bunions, anyway?

Bunions are bony protrusions that appear on the side of your foot at the base of your big toe. Your big toe has two joints: the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) and the interphalangeal joint. Bunions form on the MTP joint when the bones that make up your big toe move out of place. 

The large metatarsal bone moves toward the inside of your foot, and the smaller phalanx bones angle themselves toward your second toe. As a result, the MTP joint protrudes outward and often becomes inflamed. (Smaller bunions, called bunionettes, can also appear on the outer side of your foot on the joint of your pinky toe.)

Common causes

Anyone is susceptible to bunions, however, women are much more likely than men to get them. This is due to the first common cause of bunions, shoes with narrow toe boxes like those with pointy toes. Shoes like this crowd your toes and often force them to bunch up together. High heels can further aggravate the issue, as they put more pressure on your toes.

Unrelated to footwear, bunions can develop as a result of an inherited structural defect. Someone with flat feet, low arches, loose joints, or loose tendons is more likely to get bunions than someone without such structural issues. The shape of your metatarsal head can also play a role. If it’s too round, your joint has a higher risk of becoming deformed when you put on pointy-toed shoes because it’s not as stable.

Hammertoe can also lead to the formation of bunions, as can rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Certain occupations that involve lots of standing, walking, or putting other repetitive stress on your feet can put you at risk, as well.

Treatment options

Bunions are progressive, meaning they develop slowly over time. You may not even notice what’s going on until they’re large enough to bother you. It’s best to intervene early before they get bigger and cause pain and discomfort.

Conservative treatments are usually all it takes to resolve bunions. These may include:

Your doctor is often successful in treating your bunions using these methods in the early stages. If they have progressed to a more severe condition, or if these treatment options don’t work, your doctor may recommend a bunionectomy to remove the bump and realign your joints.

Whether you’ve had bunions for a while or you’re catching them in the early stages, our dedicated podiatrists are ready to help. Don’t let bunions become a bigger issue. Give one of  our offices a call or request an appointment online today.

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