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Kids Get Bumps on Their Big Toes Too

KidFeetIf someone asks you to think about a person with bunions, chances are you probably wouldn’t imagine a child or adolescent. The stereotype, of course, is that bunions are a condition only experienced by women in their middle or older ages. However, while that is the most common and vulnerable demographic, we’ve seen bunions in teenaged kids before, and occasionally they appear in even younger children.

What would cause a bunion in someone so young? The first thing you have to understand is that, contrary to the stereotype, you don’t have to spend every day in heels for years in order to get a bunion. Often, there’s a genetic component to the deformity, and that’s especially likely to be true when bunions appear in children.

Not all feet are created equal when it comes to foot structure. If your little one was born with a foot that isn’t quite as effective as it could be at absorbing shocks, that could loosen ligaments around the big toe joint. The toe then drifts out of alignment, and the classic bony bump begins to grow and develop. Kids with flat feet are especially susceptible to getting bunions, and if mom or dad had one growing up, there’s a good chance son or daughter will, too.

Bunion development in kids can be accelerated or compounded through improper footwear. Although bad shoes usually aren’t the cause of bunions in kids, they can make the problem worse. Hand-me-down footwear isn’t advised because they lack the cushioning of newer pairs and have probably already “molded” to fit someone else’s feet. Furthermore, because kids’ feet grow so fast, shoes need to be replaced frequently to avoid tightness and squishing around the toes.

If you notice a deformity in your child’s foot that looks like it might be a bunion—especially if he or she is complaining of foot pain or withdrawing from physical activities—it’s important to get help right away. Bunions in kids can be very painful and limiting.

Treat Bunions Now - Not Later

We want to do everything in our power to delay any kind of necessary surgical correction until after the child reaches skeletal maturity (typically around age 16, give or take a few years), since bunions that are operated on earlier than this age are much more likely to return. Bringing your child in for an appointment before the bunion is severe gives us a better opportunity to put conservative care remedies in place. These can slow the progression of the deformity and allow your child to move and play normally, without pain. The earlier we start, the more likely these measures will be effective. To schedule an appointment for you and your child, give us a call today at (800) 456-8637.

What Really Caused Your Bunion?What Really Caused Your Bunion?

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about bunions, despite how incredibly common they are. Many people assume that only older ladies can get them, or that you can only develop them by wearing high heels. While there’s a sliver of truth to these misconceptions—bunions are indeed most common in older women, and high heels can make the problem worse—the truth is a lot more complex.

One thing many people don’t realize is that most cases of bunions have a genetic component. No, you can’t “inherit” a bunion; at least not exactly. You can, however, inherit a certain foot structure or walking gait that isn’t very good at keeping the pressure and weight away from the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joint at the base of your big toe (the MTPJ, for short). Wearing high heels or pointy shoes will increase the pressure even further, which can mean the bunion forms sooner or faster. But bad shoes are not a mandatory prerequisite.

Another thing people don’t realize is that the “bump” that we call a bunion isn’t really the primary problem. The protrusion of bone only occurs after the joint becomes destabilized and the big toe begins to drift out of alignment.

Other factors that can contribute to bunion formation include:

  • Foot injuries. A major accident or repetitive small impacts over time can destabilize the MTPJ.
  • High-stress activities. Ballet dancers are notorious for bunion development, but regular practitioners of any high-impact activity (running, sports, etc.) could be more susceptible.
  • Arthritis. In particular, rheumatoid arthritis (an inflammatory condition that can cause joint deformation) and gout (which commonly affects the big toe) are most closely associated with bunions.
  • Other medical conditions. Medical issues that affect the strength of ligaments, muscle tone, or joint flexibility are thought to increase the risk of bunions. Examples include cerebral palsy and Marfan syndrome.

Whatever the underlying cause, prompt medical intervention is extremely important. If your bunion hasn’t gotten too large yet, conservative remedies are often more than enough to slow (or stop!) it from getting worse, before symptoms become an issue. The longer you wait for treatment, the more likely surgical correction will be required to get you back on your feet pain-free.

To have an expert evaluate your bunion and discuss treatment options with you, dial (800) 456-8637 to speak with Foot & Ankle Clinic of the Virginias. We have seven convenient locations in Virginia and West Virginia to serve you.

The Best Shoes for BunionsThe Best Shoes for Bunions

White water rafting is big around here, but once you go ashore, are your feet roaring as loud as the rapids? Bunion pain can put a real damper on your activities and your shoes can make matters worse. If you feel like you’re paddling upstream trying to find shoes that will accommodate the bulging bump on your big toe, let us throw you a line! Here are some tips on what to look for when finding the best shoes for bunions:

Toe boxes that are roomy – make sure you pick a pair with a wide and deep toe box so your toes have plenty of room to spread out and relax, without being squeezed.

Material that moves with you – choose shoes made of fabrics that stretch and offer a little “give.” Mesh and canvas are good choices.

A natural shape that follows your foot – avoid narrow or pointy styles, as well as high heels, that force your feet into an unnatural position and aggravate the problem.

Adjustable laces or straps – the ability to loosen or tighten your shoes gives you some added control for comfort and fit.

The right fit – bunions can affect the size and shape of your foot, so you should always measure your feet and try shoes on before you buy. Make sure they feel comfy right off the bat and there is no pressure placed on your bunion. It’s best to shoe shop in the late afternoon or evening when your feet have had time to naturally swell. Also, wear the socks you plan on pairing with the shoes.

Room for Accessories – if you use bunion pads for protection, or orthotics to help correct biomechanical issues that add to the problem, bring these along to ensure the footwear you choose accommodates these extras.

Hope that helps! If you’d like to learn more ways to ease bunion pain, give our main office a call at (304) 926-8637 to make an appointment at any of our Virginia and West Virginia locations. We’ll help you get back to the activities you love! 

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