The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Are Bunions Hereditary?

Posted by on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

A new study published in the Arthritis Care & Research journal reveals that common foot disorders — like bunions, hammertoe, and claw toe — appear to be inherited. There is increased incidence among white men and European women, the research showed. The findings are part of the Framington Foot Study, which has been looking at more than 6,000 feet over the past several years.

How Heritable Are Bunions?

According to Web MD, researchers found that:

  • Overall, 39% of women and 38% of men inherited their bunions.
  • However, 89% of bunions in younger participants (under age 60) had inherited them.
  • 68% of women and 20% of men with high-arched feet inherited the condition.
  • 99% of women and 63% of men under 60 with high-arched feet inherited it.

“These new findings highlight the importance of furthering our understanding of what causes greater susceptibility to these foot conditions, as knowing more about the pathway may ultimately lead to early prevention or early treatment,” said Harvard researcher Dr. Marian Hannan in a recent statement.

How Common Are Bunions?

One study revealed that a third of older adults experience bunions. This most recent study confirms that prevalence as well. It used to be thought that bunions were caused by wearing high heels, since they are so commonplace and strike women more than men. The 2003 High Heels Study conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that 72% of women dressed in high heel shoes with heels higher than two inches. Forty percent of the women said they wear these heels daily. Twenty percent of the women wore these heels for one to four hours a day, and 10% wore them more than eight hours a day. Not surprisingly, the APMA found a wide range of foot problems associated with uncomfortable shoes — from bunions, corns and calluses, to hammertoes, neuromas and bony enlargements on the heel.

What Can You Do About Hereditary Foot Problems?

The good news is that early intervention can really help patients — especially young ones — who are predisposed to foot problems like bunions or hammertoe avoid surgery later in life. Finding well-fitting shoes with roomy toe boxes and seeing a podiatrist about getting insoles for added support are good first steps if you are at-risk for hereditary foot problems. Runners can tape their feet in a normal position or wear special splints to avoid injury. There are exercises that help stretch the foot as well.

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.