Bunions are generally associated with women, but it’s true - men DO have bunions! In fact, approximately 4 million men in the UK alone suffer from bunions.
A bunion is a misaligned toe joint which looks like a bony lump at the base of the big toe. It forms when the big toe starts moving towards the other toes on the same foot whilst the main foot bone (the 1st metatarsal) starts moving in the direction of the other foot.
Once a bunion starts developing, there is a tendency for ligaments around the big toe joint to loosen. The big toe then gradually moves further towards the other toes and the main foot bone moves further in the direction of the other foot, making the condition worse.
Read more about bunions here.
We’ve all seen photos in the press of female celebrities with bunions! They are pictured wearing ill-fitting shoes and their unsightly feet are blamed on years of wearing unrealistically high heels. But the truth is that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that poor fitting shoes actually cause bunions - it’s a hereditary condition. If you mother or grandmother had bunions, then you probably will end up with them too! Squeezing your feet into uncomfortable shoes is very likely to exacerbate this problem and although men have the same inherited tendency, women’s shoe choices tend to worsen the condition, whereas men tend to wear lower, wider and more spacious footwear.
In general, women have looser ligaments than men and so their joints are more likely to move out of line and cause bunions.
Another reason for the higher prevalence of bunions among women than men is related to pregnancy. Pregnant women release a hormone called Relaxin during their pregnancy. This hormone prepares the body for childbirth by loosening the ligaments around the pelvis, but it can also affect the ligaments in the feet as well, aiding the formation and development of bunions and wider feet. Additional weight gained during pregnancy and the change in walking style during this period can also have an impact.
The reason men have bunions tends to be due to genetics. If your parents or grandparents had them, then it’s likely that you will too. It’s an inherited pre-disposition relating to the shape of your foot and its biomechanics (the way it moves). For example, if you have flat feet, then you tend to roll inwards as you walk or run, instead of your foot rolling evenly from heel to toe. This adds extra pressure on your tendons and ligaments around your toe joint, making it less stable and more likely to form a bunion.
Other reasons for bunion formation are the same for both men and women and include: obesity (which puts huge strain on your foot joints); rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disease affecting the joints; gout, which typically affects the big toe joint and other conditions associated with loose ligaments.
We've found a few men with bunions! Here are 5 male celebrities with bunions:
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