If 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.