Are Bunions a Hereditary Foot Problem?

Are Bunions a Hereditary Foot Problem

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a bony bump formation at the base of the big toe, leading to pain, difficulty walking, and other foot-related problems. They are often associated with inflammation, redness, and swelling at the joint where the bunion forms, making it uncomfortable to wear shoes and limiting physical activities.

Mechanism of bunions

The mechanism of bunion formation includes:

Joint Misalignment: Over time, due to continuous pressure on the big toe joint, the metatarsal bone shifts away from the second toe, creating an angle between the metatarsal bone and the big toe. Joint misalignment causes the joint to protrude outward.

Bony Overgrowth: In response to misalignment, the body produces excess bone material, leading to the formation of the characteristic bony bump known as a bunion.

Factors contributing to bunion formation

Factors contributing to bunion formation include:

Genetics/Hereditary: Genetics significantly contribute to bunions, with a family history increasing the likelihood due to inherited foot structure and mechanics, though no specific gene has been identified as the direct cause.

Improper footwear: Improper footwear, including tight, narrow, or high-heeled shoes, can force the toes into an unnatural position, compresses the big toe joint, and contributes to bunion development. Inappropriate shoe choices can exacerbate the problem, especially when worn regularly.


Age and Gender: Bunions are common in young adults, primarily due to hereditary. Women, more prone to bunions than men, often face increased risk due to the wearing of tight or ill-fitting shoes.

Foot conditions: Factors like narrow or wide feet, arch height variations, and conditions like flat feet or low arches can influence weight distribution, increase pressure on the big toe joint, and raise the risk of bunions. Overpronation and abnormal gait patterns can further stress the big toe joint. Preexisting conditions like flat feet and rheumatoid arthritis also contribute to bunion development.

Treatment for Bunion

Bunion treatment includes: 

Footwear Modification: Opt for shoes with a broad and spacious toe box, avoiding high heels and pointy-toed styles. Seek shoes with ample cushioning, good arch support, and room for toe movement.

While occasional use of heels is acceptable, limit their frequency, especially if bunions become symptomatic or painful. Prioritize comfortable, supportive, well-fitted footwear for overall foot health and bunion management.

Toe Spacers: Toe spacers, also known as toe separators or toe spreaders, are small silicon devices that can be placed between the big and second toes to maintain proper toe alignment and spacing. 

Stretch and exercise: Regularly stretching and exercising your feet and toes is crucial to maintain joint mobility and strengthen the supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments. 

Physical therapy: Physical therapy can improve foot strength, flexibility, and joint alignment, ultimately relieving bunion-related pain and discomfort. These practices promote overall foot health and help manage bunions.

Surgery: Bunion surgery, or bunionectomy, is a medical procedure to correct bunions, painful and often unsightly deformities of the big toe joint. Various surgical techniques are used based on the severity of the bunion and the patient’s health. 

Other Common surgical procedures include:

  • Osteotomy (cutting and realigning the bone).
  • Exostectomy (removing the bony bump).
  • Arthrodesis (joint fusion).
  • Resection arthroplasty (removing part of the metatarsal head)
  • The Lapidus procedure (joint fusion at the base of the big toe)

Post-Bunion surgery recovery tips & Post-Bunion surgery recovery time

Bunion surgery recovery spans several phases, starting from 0-2 weeks, when patients may experience pain and swelling and wear protective footwear.

 From 2-6 weeks, swelling reduces, allowing a transition to regular shoes and the potential start of physical therapy. The 6-12 week period marks significant healing and some activity resumption. After 3-6 months, most people can return to daily life, but proper footwear is essential. Long-term recovery, spanning up to a year, involves follow-up appointments with the surgeon. Elevation, ice, and adherence to post-operative instructions are vital, with recovery times varying individually.

Consult Dr. KP Meda for Bunion Treatment in Dubai

Dr. KP Meda is a senior UK-trained Foot and ankle specialist in Dubai. He uses state-of-the-art MISS techniques for foot and ankle surgeries, giving minimal scars and excellent functionalities. Bunion treatment in Dubai is one of his specialty treatments.