A bunion develops when your weight falls unevenly and causes undue pressure on the joints in your foot.  The pressure makes the joint unstable and will eventually misshape the joint into an uncomfortable bump. There are several factors that can contribute to a bunion:

Wearing shoes like this for long periods of time can cause uneven pressure on your toe joints and lead to bunions
Wearing shoes like this for long periods of time can cause uneven pressure on your toe joints and lead to bunions

Poor Footwear
Bunions are most common in women who wear high heel shoes.  Since high heels place all of your weight on your toes, it is common for bunions to develop as the constant pressure forces the big toe out of alignment.  Shoes with narrow tips will also contribute to undue pressure and stress of the toes and force the big toe out of alignment.  People with jobs where they are on their feet most of the day in uncomfortable shoes are prime candidates for bunions.  It is very common for ballet dancers to develop bunions as they are constantly applying unnatural pressure to their toes while at the same time wearing narrow constricting shoes.

 

Genetics
Genetics can play a big part in whether or not you are more prone to developing bunions.  A bunion itself is not an inherited trait, but if you have a family history of people with bunions, then chances are that you will also inherit foot traits that make you more susceptible to developing a bunion.

Hyperpronation

A proper foot arch footprint in the sand.
A proper foot arch footprint in the sand.

Normally when we walk, our feet will rotate inward slightly creating an arch in our footprint.  With Hyperpronation, the rotation is excessive to a point where your inner arch actually reaches towards the ground.  To tell if you have hyperpronation, check to see if your footprints in the sand or a wet footprint show a well pronounced arch or appear flattened.  Walking with this condition will often cause unnatural pressure on your big toe and after time will cause the joint to move inward causing a bunion. Wearing footwear with proper arch support or orthotic inserts can correct this condition.

Other Health Conditions
Arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation and swelling of the joints that is a result of the immune system attacking the lining of the joints.  This can lead to bunions.  Other conditions that my lead to secondary bunions may include: gout, psoriatic arthritis, Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis, and Connective tissue disorders such as Marfans syndrome.  These all can play a part in weakening the to joints and making it easier to develop bunions.

Up next “How To Prevent Bunions