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Foot Bone or Joint Injury

Are Bunions Hereditary?

Minute Read


Posted 10 months ago


Last updated: 04/12/2022


by James McCormack

Bunions are a condition that affects the forefoot where the big to angulation begins to change, moving away from the midline and towards the 2-5th toes. In some cases, no pain is associated, while for others, it can be excruciating when walking or standing. Several treatments and steps you can take to treat a bunion and factors to consider to reduce your risk of developing a bunion.

Are Bunions Hereditary?

In short, yes, bunions are hereditary. There is a significant correlation between your family history and the risk of developing a bunion. A study by Vidal et al., 2007. based on 350 patients with bunions (hallux valgus) found that 90% of these cases have a family history of bunions, affecting some families over 3 generations. Another study by Nery et al., 2013, identified that bunions in males are transmitted by the mother. 

Picture of Hereditary Bunion

How to slow down the onset of bunion formation?

If you have a family history of bunions, it is worth taking into account the steps you can take to reduce the speed of onset.

  • Avoid High heels
  • Wear wide-fitting footwear with cushioning
  • Have a Gait Analysis
  • Stretch and Strengthen your foot to address imbalances
  • Cross train between impact and non-impact exercise

Can you massage a bunion away?

It is not possible to massage a bunion away. A bunion is the result of a structural angulation of your big toe joint, so soft tissue massage will not correct this. Massage is beneficial for reducing the tone of muscles in the foot and ankle and increasing flexibility. When combined with stretching, it can be an effective way of reducing the risk of bunion formation.

A foam roller or a massage gun are effective home treatments for massage. Applying them to the calf muscle and plantar surface of the foot for 3-4 minutes followed by 1-2 minutes of stretch can provide short-term pain relief.

Can Acupuncture help with bunions?

There is no current evidence that acupuncture can help with bunions. From a clinical perspective, one could argue that acupuncture may provide some pain relief from bunions, but acupuncture will not cure a bunion.

Do ballet dancers have bunions?

Ballet dancers are more likely to develop bunions than the general population due to the nature of the activity where high load and force are placed through the big toe joint, which contributes to the development of a bunion.

Picture of Bunion in Ballet

Is it bad to crack a bunion?

When cracking a joint, you are quickly forcing gas out of a joint, and this motion creates an audible crack. When you relax your big toe, the joint naturally fills with gas, like most other joints, and as your move your toe, the gas naturally passes out of the joint, but if this is done with speed when the capsule is full, it will make a cracking noise. It is not necessarily harmful to crack the joint, but there is an argument that repeatedly doing this can stretch the joint’s capsule.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

Related Article: 3 Ways to Prevent a Bunion

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