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What’s Causing Me to Have Bunions?

Bunions may seem like a cosmetic issue, but this painful deformity can cause ongoing pain and decreased range of motion in the big toe. But what causes this problem and what can you do about it?

John Jurcisin, DPM, provides state-of-the-art footcare at Precision Footcare, one of New York City’s premiere podiatry locations. He offers these insights into what could be to blame for your bunions and how you can find relief.

Bunion basics

While it’s possible to develop a bunion in your little toe, they’re more common in the big toe. More specifically, they develop at the metatarsophalangeal joint, which connects your big toe to the metatarsal bone in your foot. This critical joint helps bear and distribute weight when you’re on your feet.

When you have a bunion, the metatarsal bone — which remains largely hidden and stops where your toe emerges — starts pointing outward, forcing your toe to point inward toward your other toes. As the two bones shift out of alignment, a bump forms at the base of the metatarsophalangeal joint, which connects the two bones.

At first, this bulge can appear mild. However, it can worsen with time and trigger a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

Bunions can also become so large that it can be difficult to find shoes that fit properly.

Causes of bunions

Anyone can develop bunions, but they're most common in women. This is likely due to making poor footwear choices, such as wearing high heels, narrow or pointed shoes, or cowboy boots. These types of shoes usually have a narrow toe box and a sloping footbed, designs that can force the front of the foot into unnatural positions.

While you can reduce your chances of developing bunions by picking better footwear, there are causes that can be beyond your control, such as your genetics and health.


Unfortunately, most people with bunions have family members who share the condition as well. That’s because your genes determine the shape and structure of your feet. Common hereditary foot problems that can increase your risk of developing bunions include:

The shape of the top of your first metatarsal bone can also contribute to the likelihood of developing bunions. For example, if the head of the bone is too round, there may be less stability in the joint and a higher chance of developing a bunion.


If you have bunions, your health could also be to blame, especially if you have an inflammatory condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Other problems that can increase your risk of developing bunions include having a neuromuscular condition, such as polio, or sustaining injuries to your foot.

Finding bunion relief

Fortunately, not all bunions require surgery. In fact, seeking treatment at the first sign of a problem can help relieve your symptoms and prevent your condition from worsening.

Dr. Jurcisin often recommends choosing proper footwear and adding protective padding or orthotics. These conservative steps can help stabilize your metatarsophalangeal joint and hold your feet in alignment.

For severe pain or significant deformities, Dr. Jurcisin may suggest bunion surgery. With this procedure, which is performed at his state-of-the-art antibacterial surgical facility, he removes the deformity and realigns the toe.

If you have a bump at the base of your big toe, it may be a bunion. To get a thorough evaluation and expert treatment, book an appointment online or over the phone with Precision Footcare today.

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