Your Genes or Your Shoes: What's to Blame for Those Pesky Bunions?

Your Genes or Your Shoes: What's to Blame for Those Pesky Bunions?

Bunions are an unfortunate but common problem of the feet. They form a protrusion on the outside of your big toe that causes pain and progressively gets worse. The problem is — they’re not always preventable. Sometimes bad genes and your inherited foot structure are to blame for this annoying problem.

At Beltsville Foot and Ankle Center, our team specializes in problems affecting your feet, including bunions. Dr. David Deiboldt is our podiatry specialist who offers a number of treatments to keep your bunion pain under control and the condition from progressing further.

What are bunions?

Bunions are a foot deformity that develops a bony protrusion on the outside of your big toe. It’s associated with a condition called hallux valgus, which causes the big toe to gradually drift toward the other toes, creating the deformity.

The bump of the bunion is often painful because it rubs on more narrow shoes. It also causes mechanical problems in your foot, which puts different pressure on the ball area of the foot.

A bunion isn’t something that’s acute; it forms over time and progressively becomes worse. This is especially true if you don’t take the proper steps to correct problems that can worsen the joint deformity.

Understanding the causes of bunions

There are a lot of factors that make bunions worse, but they’re actually an inherited deformity. Shoes were often thought to be the reason for bunions, but they only aggravate the condition or cause it to progress faster than normal. The real reasons behind bunions are:

Foot mechanics

The way you walk and exert pressure on your feet can cause bunions. Improper foot mechanics puts pressure on the structures in your foot, leading to the big toe leaning in toward your other toes.

Foot structure

Inherited foot structures also lead to bunions. Some foot structures that lead to bunions include flat feet, different bone structures, and loose ligaments.


It’s likely that if someone in your immediate family has bunions, you’ll also have bunions. This is often due to either foot mechanics, foot structure, or both.

Can bunions be prevented?

Unfortunately, bunions aren’t always preventable. If you carry the genetics that cause bunions, it’s likely that you’ll have them at some point in your life. However, there are steps you can take to slow the progression of bunions.

The biggest way to prevent painful bunions is through your shoes. Narrow or ill-fitted shoes put pressure on the big toe joint and your foot. This may cause the condition to progress faster than normal. High heels are also a risk factor when it comes to bunions.

Standing for very long periods of time also puts extra pressure on your big toe joint. Taking breaks between standing and putting your feet up can significantly decrease the pain on your bunion. It may also prevent pain from starting or getting worse.

What are the treatments for bunions

Bunions are very treatable, although they’re not reversible without surgery. The main goal of treatment is to ease any discomfort brought on by the bunion, and to keep it from getting worse.

The team at Beltsville Foot and Ankle Center offers many different treatments for bunions, including:

Changing your shoes is also an effective way to relieve bunion pain. Professionally-fitted shoes that provide comfort and a wide toe-box are ideal if you’re at risk for bunions or are experiencing pain. 

Surgery is only necessary for bunions when conservative measures haven’t helped your pain, or it becomes so unbearable that you’re having difficulty walking. Our team gives you personalized and compassionate care when you’re dealing with bunions. 

If you’re tired of suffering with bunion pain, don’t hesitate to call our office in Beltsville, Maryland at 301-804-1174, or book a consultation online today.

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