Your Genes or Your Shoes: What's to Blame for Those Pesky Bunions?

Up to 25% of people have an uncomfortable foot deformity called a bunion. It’s the result of a misalignment near your big toe joint that forces the big toe toward your second toe. This creates a bony bulge on the side of your foot. 

Bunions are progressive and often require expert care like you’ll receive from our board-certified podiatrists, David Gelbmann, DPM, and Ramsha Tanwir, DPM, here at Gelbmann Podiatry in Chicago, Illinois. 

In this blog, we answer a few questions about bunions and look closer at what’s causing them.

What are the symptoms of a bunion?

Some of the telltale symptoms of a bunion are:

All of these problems occur right at the site of the bony protrusion and cause problems when you put on shoes, walk, or exercise. 

Who gets bunions?

It’s mostly older adults who get bunions, but young adults and teens can also develop them. Women are more prone than men, but anyone can get the progressive bone problem at any time.  

What’s to blame for bunions?

You may wonder if bunions are inherited or if they’re caused by your choice of shoes. Let’s examine each cause.


People with underlying or genetic medical conditions like gout or rheumatoid arthritis are susceptible to bunions, as are those who have inherited a bone structure that leads to inadequate foot function. 

Poor bone structure is frequently linked to flat feet, overpronation, and hypermobility, all of which are bone problems associated with bunions.


Wearing ill-fitting shoes doesn’t necessarily cause a bunion, but it can exacerbate one that is forming. Shoes with a narrow toe box, like high heels, push your toes together in an abnormal position and make bunions worse. 

In addition to bunions, poor shoe choice is also a leading cause of calluses, corns, and hammertoe.

What are the treatment options for bunions?

Whether your bunions are hereditary or from the prolonged wearing of poorly fitted shoes, turn to our team at Gelbmann Podiatry for relief. 

We start with conservative options like custom orthotics, a bunion shield, night splints, or wide instep shoes. If your case is severe and you need further intervention, we may recommend surgery to correct the bone misalignment.

If a surgical solution is the best option for you, the procedure is outpatient, and you recover at home. In most cases, you can return to work or most of your normal activities after a couple days of rest. 

If a bunion is slowing you down and you need help, call one of our offices in the West Town and Near Southside areas of Chicago, Illinois, or book an appointment through our online system.

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