Causes of bunions 

A bunion is the result of a deformity in the joint of your big toe. The exact cause isn't clear.

However, possible causes may include:

These are discussed below.

Genetics

If other members of your family have bunions, your risk of developing them is increased. However, this doesn't mean you'll definitely develop bunions.

Arthritis

The types of arthritis thought to cause bunions are:

  • rheumatoid arthritis  inflammation and pain in the joints because of the immune system attacking the joint lining
  • gout  a type of arthritis that commonly affects the big toe 
  • psoriatic arthritis  a type of arthritis associated with the skin condition psoriasis

Arthritis in the toe may also develop as a result of a bunion. 

Read more about the complications of bunions.

Other conditions

A number of other conditions are also thought to increase your chances of developing bunions.

For example, conditions associated with loose ligaments, flexible joints and low muscle tone could increase the likelihood of bunions developing.

These include neuromuscular conditions, such as cerebral palsy, and connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome.

Poorly fitting shoes

Poorly fitting shoes can contribute to the development of bunions. Bunions are rare in populations that don't wear shoes.

Wearing shoes that are too tight and don't fit properly is likely to make an existing bunion worse.

Shoes that are too tight may rub against your big toe joint. High-heeled shoes that are too tight will squeeze your feet, causing your big toe to remain in a bent position. This can stretch the toe, put pressure on the nerves around it and lead to pain.

High heels also push most of your body weight forwards onto the front of your foot, which places considerable strain on your toe joints.


Page last reviewed: 05/11/2014

Next review due: 05/11/2016