Small Deformity, Big Problem: Bunions Impact a Large Number of People
There are nearly 7.8 billion people living in the world today,¹ and of those, about 1.7 billion are affected by at least one musculoskeletal condition²—about five times the number of people who live in the US!¹
Those big numbers mean big problems for the people suffering from these conditions, the health care systems that care for them, and the economies being impacted by care requirements.²
There are many conditions that are considered musculoskeletal—those impacting the bones, muscles, and joints throughout our bodies. While you may think of it as “just a bump” on your toe, don’t forget about the very common musculoskeletal deformity that might be causing lifestyle changes and pain: your bunion.
National Bone and Joint Action Week, held every year from October 12 to October 20, is a time when health care advocacy organizations collectively work to remind people of the importance of taking care of their bone and joint health.³ That makes it the perfect time to learn more about your bunion and bunion treatment options if it has begun to negatively impact your life or cause pain.
What Causes Bunions?
Bunions are caused by a deformity, called hallux valgus, which occurs when the first joint in your big toe rotates out of alignment. This causes your big toe to lean inward, crowd your other toes, and push out on the other side—where the characteristic bump forms.
Another characteristic of bunions? They are very common. In fact, research estimates that between one-third and one-half of adults will get a bunion at some point in their lives.⁴𝄒⁵
While there is no one way to determine if you are susceptible to bunions, there are a few traits that make this deformity more likely.
Age: As we get older, we are more likely to develop bunions.⁶ For example, one study that looked at the adults aged 65 and over in a diverse Massachusetts community found that 37% had bunions at the time research was conducted.⁷
Gender: Women are far more likely to develop bunions than men, no matter their age.⁴𝄒⁵
Genetics: Parents pass the structure of their feet to their children. The American Podiatric Medical Association says that “parents who suffer from poor foot mechanics can pass their problematic foot type on to their children, who in turn are prone to developing bunions. The abnormal functioning caused by this faulty foot development can lead to pressure being exerted on and within the foot, often resulting in bone and joint deformities such as bunions and hammertoes.”⁸
Race: Some people, such as those who self-identified as Black, were more likely to develop bunions than others.⁹ Alternatively, tailor’s bunions—bunions that occur on the small toe—are much more likely in people who identified as white.⁹
Shoes: Tight, narrow, and high-heeled shoes have often been accused of being the cause of many women’s bunions. These kinds of shoes may cause a bunion to start developing in someone who is already prone to one, can cause discomfort or pain in one that has already formed, and can speed up a bunion’s growth.⁹ Confining shoes, and those that cause a person to change their gait to walk in them, can cause bunions to become worse.
Other Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions can also mean a higher likelihood of developing bunions. These include osteoarthritis, weak connective tissues, a short Achilles tendon, short calf muscles, splayfoot (where the metatarsal bones of the foot spread out), and flatfoot (where the foot has a lower-than-normal arch), and joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.⁶𝄒¹⁰
What Can I Do About My Painful Bunion?
For people who haven’t found relief from bunion pain using roomy shoes, toe splints and spacers, or gel pads, it may be time to talk to a surgeon about the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy procedure.
The Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy realigns the bony structure of your big toe, fixing the deformity causing your painful bunion. A surgeon trained in the Arthrex Bunionectomy procedure creates tiny “pinhole” incisions along the side of the foot. Compared to other procedures, or those you may have undergone years ago for bunion correction, the Arthrex Bunionectomy results in smaller scars,¹¹ less pain,¹¹𝄒¹² and a higher level of patient satisfaction.¹³⁻¹⁵
To learn more about the Arthrex Bunionectomy and connect with a surgeon who performs the procedure, click here.
1. US and world population clock. United States Census Bureau. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.census.gov/popclock/
2. Musculoskeletal conditions. World Health Organization. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/musculoskeletal-conditions
3. Bone and Joint Action Week. Bone and Joint Initiative USA. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.usbji.org/programs/public-education-programs/action-week
4. Bunions: overview. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. June 18, 2018. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513134/
5. Ferrari J. Bunions. BMJ Clin Evid. 2009;2009:1112.
6. Roddy E, Zhang W, Doherty M. Prevalence and associations of hallux valgus in a primary care population. Arthritis Rheum. 2008;59(6):857-862. doi:10.1002/art.23709
7. Dunn JE, Link CL, Felson DT, Crincoli MG, Keysor JJ, McKinlay JB. Prevalence of foot and ankle conditions in a multiethnic community sample of older adults. Am J Epidemiol. 2004;159(5):491-498. doi:10.1093/aje/kwh071
8. Bunions. American Podiatric Medical Association. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.apma.org/bunions
9. Golightly YM, Hannan MT, Dufour AB, Jordan JM. Racial differences in foot disorders and foot type. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2012;64(11):1756-1759. doi:10.1002/acr.21752
10. Bunions. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Accessed July 30, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513134/
11. Lee M, Walsh J., Smith MM, Ling J, Wines A, Lam P. Hallux valgus correction comparing percutaneous chevron/Akin (PECA) and open scarf/Akin osteotomies. Foot Ankle Int. 2017;38(8):838-846. doi:10.1177/1071100717704941
12. Lai MC, Rikhraj IS, Woo YL, Yeo W, Ng YCS, Koo K. Clinical and radiological outcomes comparing percutaneous chevron-Akin osteotomies vs open scarf-Akin osteotomies for hallux valgus. Foot Ankle Int. 2018;39(3):311-317. doi:10.1177/1071100717745282
13. Blitz NM. Current concepts in minimally invasive bunion surgery. Podiatry Today. 2019;32(2):28-34.
14. Jowett CRJ, Bedi HS. Preliminary results and learning curve of the minimally invasive chevron Akin operation for hallux valgus. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2017;56(3):445-452. doi:10.1053/j.jfas.2017.01.002
15. Kaufmann G, Dammerer D, Heyenbrock F, Braito M, Moertlbauer L, Liebensteiner M. Minimally invasive versus open chevron osteotomy for hallux valgus correction: a randomized controlled trial. Int Orthop. 2019;43(2):343-350. doi:10.1007/s00264-018-4006-8