Causes of Bunions

Bunion deformities are certainly very common in some family groups, and therefore there is a significant hereditary factor involved in developing this deformity. Abnormal mechanical function of the foot is also a major cause in the development of bunion deformities. A small percentage of individuals are actually born with bunion deformities.

Statistically, more women have symptomatic bunion deformities than men. As these deformities progress, the big toe will eventually underlap the 2nd and 3rd toes, which will result in hammertoe deformities of these digits. In some more advanced cases, a bursal sack (fluid-filled cyst) will develop between the skin and the joint. This is the body’s attempt to cushion the area, but it actually results in more pain.

Clearly, in our modern society, high-heeled shoes, pointed shoes, and shoes that are too short or too narrow will severely aggravate a bunion deformity. Shoes, however, do not cause bunion deformities but aggravate deformities that are developing or already exist.

Bunion Treatment Options

Bunions are a complex deformity. When this joint is not functioning normally, then it will have a direct negative effect on the function of the remainder of the foot and ankle over time. Appropriate history and physical examination, bio-mechanical evaluation, and x-ray evaluation are necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and to be able to recommend an appropriate treatment plan to the patient.

Conservatively, shoe modifications, foot padding, anti-inflammatory medication, orthoses, and occasionally injections may be recommended to a patient in an attempt to diminish or eliminate their painful symptoms. Splints or digital wedges will not be effective in realigning the joint. None of these conservative treatments will change the structural position of the joint.

Your Podiatric surgeon may discuss and recommend surgical treatment. There are literally dozens of surgical procedures which have been developed over the past 150 years to treat the bunion deformity. Appropriate surgical treatment of a bunion is based on proper evaluation, and determination if you’re deformity is positional or structural. 

Tyler Hille
Experienced Albuquerque podiatrist specializing in preventing and treating foot and ankle pain.