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Common Foot Disorders Can Be Inherited, Research Shows

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new study confirms that two common and often painful foot disorders can be inherited.

As part of the Framingham Foot Study, which examined common foot disorders among more than 2,000 participants between 2002 and 2005, researchers studied 675 people with a bunion deformity in which the big toe angles towards the smaller toes (known as hallux valgus), and 154 people with high-arched feet that don't flatten when bearing weight (known as pes cavus). Their average age was 66, and 57 percent of the participants were female.

Using statistical genetics software, the researchers determined that the bunion deformity was hereditary in about 39 percent of women and 38 percent of men. They also found that the condition was inherited in 89 percent of people under age 60.

The disorder involving high-arched feet was inherited in 68 percent of women and 20 percent of men. Among those younger than 60, the condition was inherited in 99 percent of women and 63 percent of men.

The study was slated to be presented Nov. 9 at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), held in Atlanta.

While it's long been suspected that both of these foot disorders can be inherited, this is the first study to document it, according to the researchers. Both disorders can cause problems with mobility.

The high level of "heritability that we found is of great interest, especially for the younger ages [under 60 years], because effective interventions are available and, as with most public health interventions, are most effective in the early stages," lead investigator Marian T. Hannan, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in an ACR news release.

More information

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons has more about high-arched feet.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American College of Rheumatology, news release, Nov. 8, 2010

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