Bunions, the hideous bony growths that protrude from big toes, have often been considered a casualty of women’s love affair with the sky-high stiletto.
Women have a higher risk of developing the condition and this has often supported the idea that wobbly on trend shoes were the number one culprit.
But, the latest research into foot health may dissuade you from throwing away your favourite pair of high heels.
The most recent findings from The Framingham Foot Study suggest that people may be genetically predisposed to the unsightly foot condition.
The study, which was carried out between 2002 and 2008, looked at more than 1,000 people with foot complaints – like bunions and hammer and claw toes. The incidence of the same conditions in close family members was then assessed.
The findings showed a strong correlation between family incidences of bunions across both sexes, with a particularly higher rate of incidence in women.
The US researchers believe this could be because of the inheritance of the shape of our feet – which also predispose a person to developing bunions.
Bunions are known to cause pain, tenderness and swelling, which in extreme cases can require surgery. The main sign of a bunion is the big toe pointing towards the other toes, forcing out the bone attached to the big toe.
While the new research debunks the myth that shoes are completely to blame, podiatrists cautioned that they could still worsen the problem for those with the genetic-bunion link.
“It is something a person will have a predisposition to – but poor footwear will exacerbate it,” Richard Hanson of the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, told reporters.
“It’s a bony deformity, so it’s not going to fit into a shoe if you ram it in. And once you have a bunion, accommodative footwear is it.”
Perhaps the best approach to footwear is everything in moderation. So save those much-loved heels for special occasions.