How Do Bunions Develop?

Bunions aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they can make life extremely uncomfortable. Aside from the cosmetic concerns, as bunions grow larger, your options in footwear grow smaller as your shoes cease to accommodate the increasingly irregular shape of your foot. Coincidentally, it’s your shoes that may have started the problem in the first place, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

At Portland Foot & Ankle Institute, Dr. Michael A. Gentile and our team of foot care specialists routinely help our patients here in Portland, Oregon, deal with unsightly and painful bunions.

Here’s a look at how bunions develop and, more importantly, the steps we can take to correct them.

The giant shoe in the room

One of the primary causes of bunions is poorly shaped footwear. There’s a good reason why women are far more susceptible to developing bunions than men — those pointy heels are some of the biggest culprits behind bunions. 

Cramming your toes into a small space and then forcing them downward forces your metatarsophalangeal joint out of alignment. This causes your metatarsal bone to migrate toward the inside of the foot and the small bones in your big toe to redirect toward your second toe.

Over time, your big toe can even travel over or under your second toe.

One of the first remedies we recommend for bunions is immediately changing your footwear to shoes with roomier toe boxes and no heels. Bunions are progressive, so this change in footwear can prevent them from worsening. And while we’re no fashion experts, our clients have found plenty of suitable and attractive options in footwear that don’t damage their feet.

Arthritis or injury

Another cause of bunions is arthritis. Given that the problem stems from a misalignment in your joints, your metatarsophalangeal joint may fall prey to arthritis and a bunion can develop. Rheumatoid arthritis, especially, can lead to bunions, though osteoarthritis can also account for a fair share of the problem.

As well, an injury can also precipitate a misalignment in your foot that can lead to bunions.

In your genes

Many people who develop bunions do so because of an inherited structural fault in their feet that’s more prone to bunions. In many of these cases, we can spot the problem early on and take evasive action, but sometimes the structural defect only reveals itself with age.

Tackling bunions

If you start to develop a bunion, or bunions, early action is key to halting the progression of the condition. When we confirm that a bunion is developing, we recommend:

If your bunions are advanced or they resist these conservative measures, Dr. Gentile is a board-certified foot and ankle surgeon who can resolve the issue surgically.

If you’d like to stay one step ahead of bunions, simply give us a call at 503-400-6808 or request an appointment using our easy online scheduling tool.

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