Top Causes of Bunions and Their Solutions

Jul 11, 2023

Do you have bumps forming on the side of your foot at the base of your big toes? You most likely have bunions developing! 

Bunions, also known as hallux valgus, are a common foot condition that can cause discomfort and affect mobility. They typically develop gradually over time and can be influenced by various factors. Understanding the causes of bunions is essential for both prevention and effective treatment. 

In this article, we will explore the top causes of bunions and provide insights into managing and treating them. If you are experiencing bunions or want to learn how to prevent their development, this guide will offer valuable information.

What are Bunions?

Bunions are bony protrusions that occur at the base of the big toe joint. A person might think that their foot is growing a horn on the side of their foot, but bunions are the result of the misalignment of the bones and joints in the foot. Those bumps are actually bones pushing out the side of your foot. 

Bunions can cause pain, inflammation, swelling, and difficulty wearing certain shoes. They may also lead to toe deformities, such as hammertoes, and other foot-related problems if left untreated.

bunion by grass

Why Do Bunions Form on Your Feet?

Many different factors contribute to the formation of a bunion, but here are the top causes:


Genetic factors play a significant role in the development of bunions. If you have a family history of bunions, you are also more likely to develop them. Inherited foot structure and biomechanics can contribute to the misalignment of bones and joints.

Footwear Choices

Wearing tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes can put excessive pressure on the toes and contribute to the development of bunions. These types of shoes squeeze the toes together, pushing the big toe joint out of alignment over time.

Flat Feet and Low Arches

Individuals with flat feet or low arches have an increased risk of developing bunions. The lack of proper arch support can alter the distribution of weight and cause imbalances in the foot, leading to bunion formation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can affect the joints, including those in the feet. Inflammation and joint damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to the development of bunions.

Tendon and Joint Issues

Issues with tendons and joints in the foot can impact the alignment of the big toe joint. Conditions such as tendon imbalances, joint hypermobility, or instability can contribute to the formation of bunions.

Weak Muscles in the Foot

Weak or imbalanced muscles in the foot can affect the stability and alignment of the toes and joints. When the muscles are unable to provide proper support, the risk of developing bunions increases.

Prolonged Standing or Walking

Occupations or activities that involve long periods of standing or walking can put repetitive stress on the feet and contribute to the development of bunions. The constant pressure on the toes and joints can gradually lead to misalignment.


During pregnancy, hormonal changes can relax ligaments and cause increased foot flexibility. The additional weight and changes in gait patterns can contribute to the development or worsening of bunions in some women.

bunion after taking shoe off

What Should I Do If Bunions Develop?

If you notice the formation of bunions or experience discomfort, it is essential to take proactive steps to manage the condition. Consider the following recommendations:

Choose Appropriate Footwear

Opt for shoes that provide ample space for your toes, have a wide toe box, and offer proper arch support. Avoid high heels, narrow shoes, and styles that squeeze your toes together.

Use Protective Padding

Cushioning pads or orthotic inserts can help alleviate pressure on the bunion and provide relief. They can also improve foot alignment and reduce symptoms.

Practice Foot Exercises

Strengthening exercises and stretches for the feet and toes can help improve muscle balance and enhance foot stability. Consult with our podiatrist for guidance on specific exercises.

Apply Ice Packs

If the bunion becomes swollen or painful, applying ice packs wrapped in a cloth can help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.

Seek Professional Evaluation

It is advisable to consult our office for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. Dr. DePalma can assess the severity of the bunion, recommend appropriate footwear and orthotics, and provide further treatment options if necessary.

How Are Bunions Fixed?

The treatment of bunions depends on the severity of the condition and the impact on daily activities. In mild cases, conservative measures can help manage symptoms and slow down the progression of the deformity. These may include:

  • Custom Orthotics: Our podiatrist may prescribe custom orthotics to provide support and alignment correction, reducing pressure on the bunions.
  • Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with bunions.
  • Bunion Splints or Pads: These devices can cushion the bunion and prevent friction, reducing pain and discomfort.
  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help strengthen the foot muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance overall foot function.

In more severe cases where conservative treatments do not provide sufficient relief from the pain, surgical intervention should be considered. Surgical procedures aim to realign the bones and correct the deformity, restoring normal foot function, and are the only way to truly be rid of your bunions. 

Doctor examining bunion on foot

It’s Time to Treat Your Bunions

Understanding the causes of bunions and implementing appropriate solutions can help manage symptoms, slow down their progression, and improve overall foot health. By following preventive measures and seeking professional guidance, you can find relief from bunions and enhance your quality of life.

If you are experiencing bunions or have concerns about your foot health, do not hesitate to seek professional help. The experienced team here at Burlington County Foot & Ankle Associates is dedicated to providing comprehensive foot care and treatment options for various foot conditions, including bunions. 

Don’t let bunions hold you back – take action and prioritize your foot health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and take the first step towards healthier feet.


520 Stokes Road,
Suite C-5
Medford, NJ 08055

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