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What Really Caused Your Bunion?What Really Caused Your Bunion?

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about bunions, despite how incredibly common they are. Many people assume that only older ladies can get them, or that you can only develop them by wearing high heels. While there’s a sliver of truth to these misconceptions—bunions are indeed most common in older women, and high heels can make the problem worse—the truth is a lot more complex.

One thing many people don’t realize is that most cases of bunions have a genetic component. No, you can’t “inherit” a bunion; at least not exactly. You can, however, inherit a certain foot structure or walking gait that isn’t very good at keeping the pressure and weight away from the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joint at the base of your big toe (the MTPJ, for short). Wearing high heels or pointy shoes will increase the pressure even further, which can mean the bunion forms sooner or faster. But bad shoes are not a mandatory prerequisite.

Another thing people don’t realize is that the “bump” that we call a bunion isn’t really the primary problem. The protrusion of bone only occurs after the joint becomes destabilized and the big toe begins to drift out of alignment.

Other factors that can contribute to bunion formation include:

  • Foot injuries. A major accident or repetitive small impacts over time can destabilize the MTPJ.
  • High-stress activities. Ballet dancers are notorious for bunion development, but regular practitioners of any high-impact activity (running, sports, etc.) could be more susceptible.
  • Arthritis. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis (an inflammatory condition that can cause joint deformation) and gout (which commonly affects the big toe) are most closely associated with bunions.
  • Other medical conditions. Medical issues that affect the strength of ligaments, muscle tone, or joint flexibility are thought to increase the risk of bunions. Examples include cerebral palsy and Marfan syndrome.

Whatever the underlying cause, prompt medical intervention is extremely important. If your bunion hasn’t gotten too large yet, conservative remedies are often more than enough to slow (or stop!) it from getting worse, before symptoms become an issue. The longer you wait for treatment, the more likely surgical correction will be required to get you back on your feet pain-free.

To have an expert evaluate your bunion and discuss treatment options with you, dial (800) 456-8637 to speak with Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. We have seven convenient locations in Virginia and West Virginia to serve you.

The Best Shoes for BunionsThe Best Shoes for Bunions

White water rafting is big around here, but once you go ashore, are your feet roaring as loud as the rapids? Bunion pain can put a real damper on your activities and your shoes can make matters worse. If you feel like you’re paddling upstream trying to find shoes that will accommodate the bulging bump on your big toe, let us throw you a line! Here are some tips on what to look for when finding the best shoes for bunions:

Toe boxes that are roomy – make sure you pick a pair with a wide and deep toe box so your toes have plenty of room to spread out and relax, without being squeezed.

Material that moves with you – choose shoes made of fabrics that stretch and offer a little “give.” Mesh and canvas are good choices.

A natural shape that follows your foot – avoid narrow or pointy styles, as well as high heels, that force your feet into an unnatural position and aggravate the problem.

Adjustable laces or straps – the ability to loosen or tighten your shoes gives you some added control for comfort and fit.

The right fit – bunions can affect the size and shape of your foot, so you should always measure your feet and try shoes on before you buy. Make sure they feel comfy right off the bat and there is no pressure placed on your bunion. It’s best to shoe shop in the late afternoon or evening when your feet have had time to naturally swell. Also, wear the socks you plan on pairing with the shoes.

Room for Accessories – if you use bunion pads for protection, or orthotics to help correct biomechanical issues that add to the problem, bring these along to ensure the footwear you choose accommodates these extras.

Hope that helps! If you’d like to learn more ways to ease bunion pain, give our main office a call at (304) 926-8637 to make an appointment at any of our Virginia and West Virginia locations. We’ll help you get back to the activities you love! 

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