What You Did To Get Your Feet

When you develop foot problems, the frustration and pain accompanying it might lead you to demand, “Why me?” While doctors don’t really control the fate of the universe, they can help you answer that question, at least with regards to bunions (hallux valgus) and high arched feet (pes cavus). A recent study found that many people with these conditions seem to have inherited them, particularly if the problems showed up when the patient was younger than 60. So, just as your hazel eyes, wonky nose and sweet disposition came from some grandparent or other, so too might your bunions.

Now, just as a quick review, bunions occur when the structure of the foot puts more stress than usual on the big toe joint. This may eventually stretch out the soft tissue around the joint, and the top of the big toe may start to angle toward the pinky toe as the big toe joint starts to jut outward. Bunions usually become painful when the shoes you wear don’t accommodate the change in the shape of your foot. Things start to rub, you get uncomfortable, and eventually yell to the sky, “What the heck, universe?!? Why is this happening to me?”

Pes Cavus (or high arched foot) sometimes happens when the muscles pulling the ball of your foot and your heel toward each other are stronger than the muscles pulling them back up. Your arches stay very high, even when you put weight on them. And because the weight is being put on your feet in an unusual way (all on the heel and ball of the foot), it stresses the foot out quite a bit, making your feet sore, shoes uncomfortable, and your ankle unstable and prone to sprains. And again you may find yourself raging against the universe.

This may be fascinating, you say, since foot problems are endlessly intriguing, but what does this mean for me? Well, if you have an inkling that you’re going to be developing a medical condition (like bunions or high arched feet), your podiatrist may be able to intervene early on in the disease. This is good news because problems like bunions and high arched feet are more effectively treated when they’re caught earlier. So, if your mother and grandmother and two aunts all have bunions, you may just want to get yourself checked out too. It could save you a lot of pain in the long run. And maybe help you avoid ranting at the cosmos, at least about your feet.