Do Shoes or Genes Cause Bunions

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You may have heard that wearing high heels will cause bunions. Or, you may think bunions are inevitable because everyone in your family has them. The truth is, there are several risk factors for bunions, and any combination of them can increase the likelihood you’ll develop the painful bump.

What exactly is a bunion, anyway?

There are three different types of bunions. The most common is a bony knot that forms on the joint where your big toe and your foot come together, the metatarsophalangeal joint. Older women experience bunions more than any other group of people.

A second type is sometimes called a tailor’s bunion, or a bunionette. A tailor’s bunion forms on the joint where your pinky toe and your foot come together.

The third type of bunion is an adolescent bunion, which is exactly what it sounds like—a bunion on the toe of an adolescent, most often girls between the ages of 10 and 15 years.

Risk factors for bunions

There are several things that make it more likely you’ll get bunions, and some people have more risks than others. Some risk factors, such as being female, can’t be mitigated, but others can.

Cramped toes

The name tailor’s bunion came about because so many tailors developed the bony lump on the outsides of their feet. Tailors often sat cross-legged on the floor, which pushed their pinky toes toward their other toes and put pressure on the joint that develops a bunion.

Similarly, wearing shoes that are narrow and have a pointed toe squeezes your toes together and forces your big toe over toward your other toes. Many women who wear tight, pointy shoes develop bunions.

Choosing shoes that have plenty of space in the toe box can help you avoid bunions.


Most of the time adolescent bunions, particularly, tend to run in families. You may have a predisposition for bunions in general as well. If several members of your family have bunions, you may want to take extra care in choosing shoes that allow your toes plenty of room.

Chronic conditions

If you have certain medical conditions, you may have a higher likelihood of getting bunions. People with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis have a greater risk of bunions. Some other diseases, such as polio, also raise your risk of bunions.

Complications due to bunions

Bunions develop slowly. You won’t suddenly notice a lump on the side of your foot. Instead, it will grow over time, and become red, inflamed, and painful. You may lose the ability to move your toe, which can make walking difficult.

Before suggesting a treatment plan, Dr. Maislos will first examine your foot, order an X-ray, and talk to you about your symptoms, lifestyle, and goals.

If you have pain due to a bunion, or if you suspect you may be developing one, book an appointment online or by phone at Houston Foot and Ankle Care. Dr. Maislos is happy to answer your questions, evaluate your condition, and suggest ways to treat your bunion.