Protecting Your Feet

Bunions Can Diminish Quality Of Life For Those At Risk

A bunion isn't just unsightly, it can cause pain and even lead to disability. Although bunions may cause toe and foot pain, in some cases, large bunions cause pain in the lower back, knee, and hip – pain severe enough to interfere with your daily functioning. Therefore, it helps to know who is at risk as well as the problems bunions can cause.

What problems can a bunion cause?

Besides the difficulty of finding comfortable shoes to wear, bunions can affect your balance and gait (the way you walk). Not only can severe bunions interfere with walking and limit physical activity, they can increase the risk of falls, particularly in older individuals.

If pain in your big toe causes you to constantly shift your weight onto your other toes, you may then experience pain in the ball of your foot. The pressure of the big toe pushing inward toward the small toes also can lead to corns, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, and calluses on the bottom of the foot.

What is a bunion really?

A bunion is a deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe – the result of a misaligned joint. The deformity occurs when the first metatarsal bone of the foot turns outward, causing the big toe to drift inward toward the other toes. Shoes are difficult to fit when the joint protrudes outward. Therefore, the pressure a shoe puts on the joint can cause inflammation of the bursa (a small, fluid-filled sac located near the joint), making the joint stiff and painful.

Who is more likely to get a bunion?

While bunions may have a hereditary component, some people are at higher risk than others for developing bunions.

People with low arches and flat feet

Structural deformities of the foot cause pressure on the big toe joint when your weight is distributed unevenly on the joints, ligaments, and tendons in your foot.

Pregnant women

Hormonal fluctuations loosen ligaments in the foot and toes. A woman's body produces more of certain hormones during pregnancy to relax the muscles and in the pelvis. While this allows pelvic and uterine muscles to stretch more during delivery, it also loosens other muscles and joints throughout the body.

Individuals with arthritis or other inflammatory joint diseases

Over time, joint diseases wear away the cartilage between the foot and toe joints. Both joint damage and damaged cartilage can lead to pain and deformity.

People who work in certain occupations

Generally, occupations that require you to stand or walk much of the time make you more susceptible to bunions – the result of the undue stress you put on your feet.

Older individuals

Research shows that the chances of developing bunions increases with age. Consequently, any bio-mechanical abnormality of the structure of the foot can lead to gait and balance problems – often the result of pain.


Wearing narrow, tight, or high-heeled shoes puts pressure on the big toe joint and squeezes toes together.

Can bunion surgery improve quality of life?

While there are a number of noninvasive treatments to try first, treatment often requires more than wearing the right shoes and localized pain relief. If you are in constant pain or the deformity gets increasingly worse, your doctor may recommend surgery to realign the joint, which involves cutting the bone and moving it over. While bunion surgery reduces pain and improves the alignment of the big toe, you still may experience some discomfort after. To learn more, speak with a business like Affiliated Ankle & Foot Care Center.