FAQ046: What are bunions and what are the risk factors?

Bunions can be red, sore and just not pretty!

Many people (women in particular) can develop bunions. Bunions are abnormal bony growths often developing on the big toes. They can cause pain, redness, sometimes swelling. For most people, they just don’t make our feet look pretty. Bunions can cause our feet to look wider. This can make it challenging when we are trying to buy shoes. Many women can become self conscious of the way their feet look because of the bony growth on their big toe.

What does a bunion look like?

Bunions essentially look like bony growths. They are big bumps that come on the outside parts of our feet. They can sometimes develop off of the little toes but that is much less common. They can be red in colour especially if they are acutely irritated.

The growth can cause a shift in the position of our toes. So instead of our toes facing straight forward, it can cause a shift. This would make it so that your toes look like they’re slanted inwards. It is often the big toe that moves in towards the other toes.

Why do we get them?

There are a couple of reasons why we can develop bunions. But for most people it can be the shoes we wear (ladies you know what I’m talking about!). If we are wearing tight shoes, especially along the top parts of our feet, it can put a lot of friction and pressure on the sides of our big toes. Women in particular, or men with stiff dress or work shoes, can be prone to bunions.

Women who wear high heels are particularly prone to bunions. Especially shoes that are pointed at the top. It pulls our toes in to the middle and mimics what our toes would look like if we had bunions. Even if our shoes are just too tight we can develop some of that pressure that can lead to bony growths.

Another major risk factor can be people with rheumatoid arthritis. Because rheumatoid arthritis affects the small joints in the hands and feet, the big toe can be affected. This break down of cartilage can lead to the development of a bunion.


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Christina Prevett

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