Are Bunions Genetic? (Answer from Harvard Health Publishing)

A bunion is usually triggered by the pressure on the other toes, which often pushes the big toe against the heel. This causes the base of the toe to protrude out from the foot.

A bunion is a condition where the angle between the first and second metatarsal bones is measured. This angle, which is known as the hallux valgus angle, is used to evaluate how severe a bunion is.

Everyone’s foot has its own unique set of foot mechanics. The bad news is that these are often linked to genetics.

Overview of Bunions

Most of the time, walking is good for us. However, due to various conditions, it can also cause pain. One of these is a bunion. It is a common cause of foot deformities.

Causes of Bunions

Bunions are small bumps on the base of the big joint that attaches to the foot. They usually form when the toes are pushed toward the other toes due to the shoes not fitting properly. The pressure on the joint then pushes the first metatarsal bone outward, creating a hard knob on the joint.

Proper Shoes Can Prevent It

Although it is possible that high heels and tight shoes can cause bunions, proper shoe fitting can help prevent this foot deformity from developing.

The primary cause of bunions is improper shoe wear. Wearing uncomfortable shoes all day long can lead to the development of the condition. It is not uncommon for women to have the same problem if they regularly wear high heels.

What You Can Do About It

Toe spacers are also helpful for people with a lot of pain. They are small silicon devices that are placed between the big and second toe to help keep the big toe straight. However, they won’t fix the problem and usually leave the toe joint in its original position.

Treating bunions early can be as simple as changing to a more comfortable shoe. It can also help prevent further development by reducing the amount of time that you wear heels.

Treating bunions with conservative measures can help avoid further development. However, these treatments may not relieve pain enough to justify surgical options.

Can Bunions Be Inherited?

Although there are some genetic factors that can affect bunion formation, it’s still important to remember that you can still control how and why you get them.

While some people are more prone to having bunions than others, bunions are hereditary according to Harvard Health Publishing. Although narrow shoes can still cause a bunion, they’re not the main cause of the condition.

Bunions are complex and can be inherited. Many people with this condition have multiple family members affected by it. The risk of getting it is higher for first-degree relatives.

Family members can also pass on the inherited bunions. In most cases, they can skip generations and get inherited from parents.

The shape of the first metatarsal bone also affects the stability of the joint. If it’s too round, it can cause the joint to bend when worn in shoes with narrow toes.

High heels can also cause bunions since they can tip the body’s weight forward, which can affect the toes’ placement.

Why Are Bunions Often Hereditary?

A bunion is caused by instability in one or more joints in the foot. These include the metatarsophalangeal joint and the Lisfranc joint.

When the bones in your foot become unstable, they can begin to shift outward. This can cause the toe to point the other way, which can lead to a bony prominence.

The most common cause of joint instability is the way people’s feet shape. For instance, some people have a narrow foot, while others have a wide one.

Unfortunately, there are also foot shapes that are created equal. Not all of them are created equal when it comes to supporting and cushioning your weight.

Some people also have a tendency to have joint deformities in their big toe and first metatarsal.

Since your foot shape and structure are different from that of someone else, it’s possible that it will resemble their parents.

Genetics vs Shoes for Bunions

Can shoes cause bunions? It’s not as simple as people might think. There is a fair amount of disagreement within the medical community regarding the link between genetics and shoes.


People are naturally prone to having this foot deformity due to their unique foot shape and structure. The bad news is that this is largely tied to genetics. In most cases, having parents or grandparents with this condition increases your chances of having it yourself.


Aside from genetics, there is also a link between shoes and bunion formation. High heels and narrow toes can put undue pressure on the front of the foot, which could potentially weaken the joint that anchors the big toe.

Bad shoes can also cause various foot problems and pain. If they run in your family, you should avoid wearing them and risk making it worse.

At What Age Do Bunions Develop?

Bunions can cause problems for people of all ages. Experts say that they are hereditary and can be corrected with surgery. Bunions are protrusions of the foot. They can cause foot pain and uncomfortable feet. The most common type of bunion is called hallux valgus.

Byron Hutchinson, a DPM, is a podiatric doctor who is trained to diagnose and treat conditions related to the foot.

He said that most women start experiencing the same problems during their 20s and 30s, and individuals who have a hereditary risk to develop bunions should talk to their doctor about having the procedure.

Contrary to popular belief, Hutchinson explained that bunions are not caused by shoes. Instead, they are caused by the lack of proper foot care. As a result, Hutchinson said that the untreated cases of unshod populations are similar to those who have undergone bunion surgery.

Can You Prevent Hereditary Bunions?

Being able to identify these risks is a huge step in helping to prevent the development of bunions. It can also help to minimize the risk of having the same foot type as your ancestors.

What you can do to prevent bunions:

  • Wearing the proper footwear
  • To avoid overstretching particular regions of your foot, consider orthopedic insoles.
  • Keeping a healthy weight is important.
  • Exercise and strengthen your ankles, foot, and big toe on a regular basis.
  • Observe any physical changes in your foot, particularly around the big toe.

Bottom Line

Bunions are bony protrusions that develop on the toe joint at the base of one’s big toe. When these bones get moved out of place, the toe joint at the base of one’s big toe gets stuck.

Wearing tight shoes can cause bunions to develop. It can also be caused by a medical condition or a foot deformity.