The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Study: Women, African-Americans At Greater Risk For Bunion Development

Posted by on Thursday, January 8th, 2015


Anyone can develop bunions — bony protrusions at the big toe’s base. Yet, certain people may be at greater risk than others. Bunions can’t always be prevented, but their growth can often be stymied with early intervention. Furthermore, understanding who is at greater risk for bunions is an important step in proactively managing foot care to prevent functional limitations. New research published in Arthritis Care and Research highlights the groups most likely to suffer from bunions.

Bunions affect older people and women more than other groups. Image from

Who Is At Risk For Bunions?

A large study of 1,502 subjects in Johnson County, North Carolina found the following risk factors associated with bunions:

– Age: Older (mean age = 68.4 years)

– Race: African American (70%)

– Gender: Female (68%)

– Weight: Normal to slightly overweight (mean BMI = 31.3)

– Comorbidities (presence of two or more chronic diseases): foot pain (39.6%), flat foot (27%), knee or hip osteoarthritis (66.4%)

 If you have a bunion, you may also suffer from foot pain, disability, poor balance, and an increased risk of falling — especially if you are an older American. While insurance companies treat bunions like a “cosmetic” issue, NY podiatrists understand that hallux valgus deformity can be so much more.

Can Bunions Be Prevented?

It was once thought that women gave themselves bunions by excessively wearing high heel shoes. We now know that is not true — that much of a bunion’s development can be traced back to genetics, in fact. That being said, wearing more accommodating footwear is a big step in the right direction and can arrest the progression of a bunion. Shoe inserts (orthotics) and modifying lifestyle to reduce toe pressure can go a long way when bunions are detected early.

What Can You Do About Bunions?

A few conservative measures are usually enough to prevent bunions from worsening. First, choosing shoes with a wide, flexible sole and spacious toe box is imperative. Shoes should have a sturdy heel counter, heels should be low, and the upper sole material should have a little flexibility (like leather, instead of plastic). New York podiatrists can measure your foot and help you find the right fit and style shoe for your unique feet.

Moleskin or gel-filled pads will protect your bunion from scraping the side of your shoe. A night splint can ease discomfort, especially if your foot aches in the mornings. A warm foot soak or ice pack will help when the bunion is feeling irritated, as will over-the-counter drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen.

When bunions are really impeding life, our skilled podiatric surgeons have dozens of techniques to repair the deformity. We generally do not perform surgery solely for cosmetic reasons, but we will explore all possible options during your consultation. Should you require surgery, know that most of our patients graduate to walking boots soon after surgery for an active recovery. Our physical therapists will see that your recovery is as quick, comfortable, and successful as possible. We give you the time of day necessary to resolve any chronic pain or discomfort you are experiencing.

If you live near Manhattan or White Plains, NY, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine for expert bunion care.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.