Are Your Shoes or Your Parents the Reasons for Your Bunions?

If you have bunions, you may wonder what you can do to stop them from worsening and to relieve the pain associated with them. The first step in treating bunions is figuring out what causes have contributed to your bunions. At Hoosier Foot & Ankle, our podiatrists assess your feet, history, and lifestyle to determine the factors involved in your case.

There is some disagreement about the primary cause of bunions — the shoes vs. parents debate — and it’s likely that multiple factors contribute to bunions. Yes, the two most common factors are footwear and genetics; however, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis may contribute to bunions as well.  

Shoes and bunions

Many people assume bunions are caused by wearing certain types of shoes like high heels or wearing ill-fitting shoes. However, bunions are usually more complex than simple footwear choices.

Research has shown that women are affected by bunions about nine times more often than men, and it is thought that this is due to women’s fashionable shoe choices. Shoes with an elevated heel put more pressure on your toe joints, and a narrow toe-box can compress your toes together. Both of these can exacerbate bunions, but some people can wear fashionable shoes their entire lives and not experience bunions simply because they have strong, flexible joints or a narrow foot anatomy that is not exacerbated by narrow shoes.

Comfortable, well-fitting shoes are an important part of foot health. They not only help prevent bunions, but they also can reduce other uncomfortable problems such as ingrown toenails. While many people balance foot health and fashion, once you show the first signs of bunions such as redness and tenderness at the joint of your big toe, it is important to reassess your footwear. The team at Hoosier Foot & Ankle can help you determine if your footwear is making your bunions worse and guide you in choosing better shoes.

Genetics and bunions

The other main factor that contributes to bunions is your genetic predisposition to them. It’s not just about bunions running in your family; the genetic aspect of bunions has several factors.

For example, one genetic factor that contributes to bunions is weak joints. If the joint of your big toe is weak, it is much more likely to move out of place over time. Another factor can be having wide feet. With a wide foot, it can be difficult to find a shoe that allows room for your toes, causing a bunion even if you have a naturally strong toe joint.

Signs of hereditary bunions usually start to show up in adolescence, while non-hereditary bunions tend to develop later in life, after many years of wearing improper shoes.

Bunions are treatable

If you notice tenderness or swelling along your big toe joint, at any age, it’s a good idea to see a podiatrist. If you catch bunions early and make some changes, you can prevent them from worsening, even if you’re genetically predisposed to bunions.



At Hoosier Foot & Ankle, we can determine what is causing your bunions and present an appropriate treatment, tailored to your needs and lifestyle. Bunions don’t always require surgery. Often, conservative measures such as different shoes, custom foot orthotics, and physical therapy can alleviate bunion pain.

Whether your parents or your shoes are to blame, if you suffer from bunions, we can help. Call the Hoosier Foot & Ankle location closest to you, or request an appointment online.

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