For centuries, philosophers and scientists have grappled with the idea of nature vs. nurture—are your traits mostly a result of your genetic makeup, or do we all start as a “blank slate,” developing all our habits based on observing our environment?
You may be surprised to learn that podiatrists have similar disagreements about bunions. The exact causes of this bony bump at the base of your big toe isn’t totally settled, but what is true is that most cases have both a genetic component and a behavior component.
First, nature. Every foot is unique, and some feet are just better designed to handle loads and stresses. When pressure from standing and walking is distributed unevenly across your sole, the joints and tendons bearing the brunt of the force may become unstable and gradually push and pull out of position, leading to the classic hard knob and misaligned toe of this deformity. Because foot shape is, to a large extent, passed down from generation to generation, children of parents who have them are more likely to develop one themselves.
Next, nurture. Here’s where the big disagreement occurs—we aren’t really sure whether wearing bad, unsupportive shoes can cause this problem all by themselves. However, bad shoes absolutely make the problem worse—at the very least, they can take a foot structure already predisposed to bunion formation and greatly speed up the process.
Shoes with narrow, pointed toe boxes cram toes together, putting stress on the joints. Likewise, high heels shift all your weight to a very small area at the front of your foot, significantly magnifying the pressure of each step right at the spot where the deformity happens. Mix them both—as many pairs of stylish shoes do—and you have a recipe for disaster. It’s no surprise, then, that 90 percent of cases occur in women.
Regardless of the ultimate cause of your bunion, David Feder, DPM and Richard Schorr, DPM at Palm Beach Podiatry are here to help you overcome the pain. We offer a full suite of treatment strategies, ranging from gentle, conservative pain management techniques to surgical correction. The earlier you see us, the more likely we’ll be able to help you with non-surgical approaches.
To schedule an appointment with us at one of our three convenient South Florida locations, use our online contact form or give us a call toll free at 888-668-8344. We are located in Boynton Beach, Loxahatchee, and Fort Pierce, FL.