What Causes Bunions

A bunion is an abnormal bump that occurs on the joint at the base of the big toe. This common foot problem can be painful and unsightly. According to The Mayo Clinic, bunions form when the big toe pushes up against the other toes. This forces the big toe joint in the opposite direction, away from the normal profile of the foot. Over time, this problem grows progressively worse, further crowding the other toes and becoming more and more painful. But what causes this painful condition?

There are a number of possible causes that can lead bunions to form.

Bad footwear

The most common cause of bunions is shoes that do not fit properly. Wearing high-heeled shoes that are narrow at the toe can lead to the development of bunions. This is because the foot is forced to form an unnatural shape, often over long periods of time. High heels push most of your body weight onto the front of the foot, which puts strain on the joints. Women are more likely to suffer from bunions than men for this reason. Older women have often worn high-heeled shoes of this nature for many years, often resulting in painful, extensive bunions. One of the problems with this issue is that the problem doesn't become obvious until much later in life, by which time it is too late.

Genetic foot problems

Patients born with abnormal bones in their feet are also at much higher risk of forming bunions later in life. For these patients, the problem is likely to occur regardless of the type of footwear worn, because the bones in their feet naturally force the big toe joint to go the in the opposite direction. If other members of your family suffer or have suffered from bunions, then you are at an increased risk of suffering from the condition yourself.

Arthritis

Different types of arthritis are thought to potentially cause bunions.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis leads to inflammation and pain in the joints as a result of the immune system attacking the joint lining. This can lead to bunions.
  • Gout occurs when crystals of sodium urate form inside the joints, caused by a buildup of uric acid in the body.
  • Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis associated with the condition psoriasis, which also affects the skin.

Other conditions

A number of other conditions are also thought to increase the risk of bunions. Conditions that are associated with loose ligaments, flexible joints or low muscle tone may all increase the risk of developing bunions. Cerebral palsy is a problem of the brain and nervous system that affects coordination and movement. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that causes muscle weakness and problems with balance. Other conditions, including Down Syndrome, are all believed to increase the risk of bunions.

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