Men and Bunions

Women’s footwear can get a bum rap what it comes to bunions. A lot of people are quick to point their fingers at stylish stilettos and pumps as being the cause of these fairly common toe deformities, when this simply is not always the case. Sure, there are certainly risks that come with wearing shoes that squash the toes together and then place excessive pressure on the forefoot, but women’s shoes cannot possibly be exclusively at fault – there are too many bunions in men for that to be the case!

Bunions Explained

The top of the foot is made up of five long bones called the metatarsals, which run between the heel bones and the toe bones. Normally, the big toe is in line with the first metatarsal, the second toe with the second metatarsal, and so on. With this condition, imbalance leads to a misalignment of the joint.

The swollen, red, bony bump develops at the base of the big toe when the big toe starts to angle inwards. This angling towards the middle of the foot forces the first metatarsal to protrude out to the side of the foot, right at the base of the big toe, resulting in this often painful deformity.

It is estimated that only about thirty-five percent of bunions might be caused by footwear, the rest are thought to be genetic. Genetics mean any member of a family can be affected; a man whose mother has them has just as much chance of developing one as his sister. Although women are twice as likely to form them than a man, the incidence also increases with age, heredity, and shoe choice.

Besides basic genetics, other attributes that lead to this to deformity in men include:

  • Flat feet
  • Amputation of the second toe
  • Neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • A shortening of the Achilles tendon
  • A ruptured posterior tibialis tendon.

Bunion Difficulties for Men

The truth of the matter is, just as this problem can make it difficult for women to wear certain shoes, the same thing can happen to men as well.  Men have just as much trouble fitting into tight or narrow footwear with that bump by their big toe. They may also notice pain in the joint and have difficulty participating in daily activities, as well as those they enjoy most—such as athletics. 

As a man, it is important to pay attention to the signs of bunions. Just because you associate the condition with women, doesn’t mean they can’t become a problem in men. This means keeping your eyes open for signs and symptoms that include the signature bony protrusion, redness, swelling, and a greater propensity for corns and calluses at the affected joint.

Bunion Treatment Options

Depending on the severity, we may be able to provide conservative treatment that will address symptoms and relieve pain. Padding, taping, splinting, shoe inserts (custom orthotics), icing, medication, and even changing to comfortable, roomy shoes can all help.

While some symptoms can be addressed without surgery, the only way to correct the structural problem is with surgical procedures. Commonly known as a “bunionectomy,” surgery can entail removing swollen tissue, realigning bones, straightening the big toe, and/or fusing joints permanently. Typically, we will not recommend a procedure for a man (or woman) unless the condition causes severe pain or interferes with daily activities.

Expert Bunion Care for Men in Austin, TX

Men get bunions too, but this doesn’t mean you have to live with the pain they can cause. Instead, come see our expert doctors at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. We will create a treatment plan to provide relief and allow you to go back to your favorite activities and sports. Contact us today by calling (512) 328-8900 or schedule your appointment online at our Austin, TX office.


Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists