Corns, Calluses & Bunions

What causes bunions?

A Answers (4)

  • AChristopher W. Hodgkins, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
    The cause of bunions is inflammation of the tissue or bone at the joint of your big toe. A bunion causes a bulge at the base of your big toe. This bulge protrudes outward, and the deformity can cause your big toe to turn inward. It’s a hereditary condition, but poorly fitting shoes can be a factor.
  • AThomas San Giovanni, MD, Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of Baptist Health South Florida
    The bump of a bunion is partly due to the swollen bursal sac and a bony protrusion where the first metatarsal bone and big toe meet. Bunions can occur for a number of reasons, but genetics is an important underlying factor, particularly when it comes to the angle of the first metatarsal. Wearing shoes that fit too tightly can also contribute to the development of bunions.
  • AHealthwise answered

    Bunions may be caused by foot mechanics that result in too much pressure on the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint). An abnormal foot motion called excessive pronation, having certain foot shapes such as flatfoot, and wearing shoes that squeeze the toes together or shift weight to the toes (such as high-heeled shoes) may all contribute to the pressure. Over time, the constant pressure forces the big toe out of alignment, gradually bending it toward the other toes (displacement).

    A bunionette, or tailor's bunion, is one that develops at the base of the little toe. When the long bone that connects to the toe (metatarsal) bends away from the foot, the little toe bends inward and the joint swells or enlarges.

    Other factors that can lead to a bunion include:

    • Loose ligaments in the foot.
    • Previous injury to the foot.
    • Hammer toe or removal (amputation) of the second toe. When the joint of the second toe rises, as in hammer toe or the second toe is missing, it becomes easier for the big toe to drift toward the other toes.
    • Abnormal development of the foot.
    • Arthritis.

    This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. To learn more visit

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    While bunions can sometimes be genetic, wearing high-heeled shoes is often the culprit. What classically happens is you step in these high-heeled shoes and you squish your toes into the bottom of the shoe, and the toes kink a little bit, which makes the bone stick out.

    There's no need to worry about bunions if they aren't hurting. It's not a big deal unless they bother you.

    The best way to avoid bunions is to avoid shoes that are likely to contribute to their development. Once the angle starts to go off the wrong way, your foot becomes inefficient as you walk. That's why younger women in particular ought to pay attention to this issue.
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