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Are Bunions a Hereditary Foot Problem?

Are Bunions a Hereditary Foot Problem?

Perhaps you’ve developed a bunion, or you have a family member dealing with this foot abnormality for years. Do genetics play a role? The answer is yes, you can inherit bunions, but you can also develop them with no family history of the condition.

Bunions are one of the most common foot problems we see at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, and our team is well-versed in the many ways this condition occurs. We’re also experts in remedying bunions, which is good news because once a bunion starts, they only get worse and never better.

Understanding the mechanics of bunions

From the outside, a bunion may look like it only involves a shifting of your big toe, but it’s slightly more complex than that.

In fact, a bunion starts at the base of your big toe, in your metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. The MTP joints are where the long metatarsal bones meet the first bones in your toe, called the phalanx.

A bunion occurs when your MTP joint is out of alignment — the metatarsal bone drifts toward the inside of your foot, and the phalanx bone starts to point toward the outside. The misalignment causes an enlargement in the joint — the bony protrusion you see at the base of your big toes.

Risk factors for bunions

Now that you understand the mechanics behind bunions let’s take a look at what can start the bunion cascade we outline above:


Genetics play a significant role in how our body is formed, and you may inherit feet that are more prone to joint misalignment issues like bunions. In fact, the risk of developing bunions is greater when you have a parent or sibling with the condition.

Note that no identified gene is related to bunions, so the hereditary factor is more general and has to do with structure, such as inheriting the shape of your nose from your parents.


Bunions occur more in women than men, and researchers believe this has to do with weaker connective tissues in womens’ feet.


One out of three people over 65 has bunions, so age is a significant contributing factor.

Foot conditions

Another potential cause of bunions is preexisting foot conditions, such as flat feet or rheumatoid arthritis.


What you wear on your feet may contribute to the development of bunions, especially if you choose pointy toes and high heels. Misalignment issues like bunions can develop if your toes can’t spread out. While footwear may not be a primary cause of bunions, shoes can exacerbate the issue, particularly if you’re at risk for bunions for other reasons.

Clearly, heredity influences bunions, but it isn’t the only contributing factor.

However you developed bunions, the good news is we can surgically realign your big toe joint. It is the only way to resolve a painful bunion because this foot abnormality is irreversible and progressive.

If you’d like to learn more about your solutions for bunions, please contact one of our offices in Hermitage, Brentwood, Nashville, Mount Juliet, Waverly, Smyrna, Gallatin, Columbia, Pulaski, Hendersonville, or Lebanon, Tennessee, to schedule a consultation.

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