What Causes Bunions?

Dr. Gregory Bryniczka Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Specialist) Wheaton, IL

Gregory C. Bryniczka, DPM, FACFAS, is a well-versed podiatrist who diagnoses and treats patients Northwest Podiatry Center in Illinois. Dr. Bryniczka established the center in 1976 and currently practice alongside his son, board certified foot and reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgeon, Adam W. Bryniczka, DPM, as well... more

A bunion is a bump that forms on the outside of the big toe. This foot deformity occurs over years of pressure on the big toe joint (the metatarsophalangeal, or MTP, joint). Gradually, the toe joint gets out of alignment, and a bony bump forms. The medical term for bunions is hallux abducto valgus.

Up to one in three Americans will develop bunions. This foot problem is more common in older adults, especially women. 

What causes bunions?

The common causes of bunions are pressure from the way you walk (foot mechanics) or the shape of your foot (foot structure) causes your big toe to bend in toward the second toe. Bunions happen gradually over time and can form on one or both feet. Standing for long periods and wearing ill-fitting, narrow shoes can make bunion pain worse, but they don’t cause the problem.

Bunions typically don't go away on their own. The treatment often focuses on relieving symptoms and may include:

  • Bunion pads and taping
  • Footwear changes
  • Orthotic devices