Caring for Children’s Bunions

Children often want to act more adult than they actually are, even when they are very young. Playing dress-up by donning their parents’ clothes and putting on Mom’s lipstick or Dad’s hat provides hours of fun. One thing that’s considered grown-up but is not much fun, however, is a bunion, and even a juvenile bunion is nothing to take lightly.

Family Ties

Children’s bunions are most often the result of inherited structural problems that cause the big toe joint to shift out of alignment. This makes the big toe drift toward the others, pushing the joint outward resulting in a bony protrusion. The condition is almost always associated with flat feet. Having no arch can cause a child to overpronate, which puts an excessive amount of pressure on the first metatarsal head, where it connects to the big toe joint. Just as with adults, that pressure is a strong contributor to the formation of a bunion.

Listen to Kids’ Complaints

In the early stages, children’s bunions may not have symptoms, but as the condition progresses, the bony bump will become noticeable. It may also be red or swollen. Shoes will start to be difficult to wear, and while there is often no pain, kids may complain that it is uncomfortable when participating in sports and activities.

Don’t Play Around

It is important to seek treatment at the first signs of a juvenile bunion. The problem will continue to get worse otherwise, and if left untreated, may end up needing surgery. Also, in rare cases, these bony bumps can be indicators of underlying conditions like juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or neuromuscular disorders which will need to be addressed as soon as possible.

The experts at Country Foot Care will examine your child’s foot, assess his or her gait and biomechanics, as well as test joint flexibility. Taking a baseline X-ray will allow us to compare later X-rays and monitor progression. Treatment depends on the age of the child. If he or she is still growing and has open growth plates at the head or base of the first metatarsal, conservative care is recommended.

Custom fabricated orthotics are the treatment of choice for children’s bunions. These provide stability and arch support to relieve excessive pressure and slow progression, preventing the condition from getting worse. These can also correct biomechanical issues that are contributing to the problem. A switch to wider footwear with plenty of wiggle room for the toes can also help, along with special padding to protect the area from friction. In addition, there are toe spacers and splints that can be worn at night that keep the big toe aligned in its correct position. Stretching exercises can improve mobility of the joint and strengthen the small muscles in the foot, as well.

If you are noticing that your child is not developing arches or see signs of a Juvenile bunion forming, make an appointment with Country Foot Care doctors today. Appointments can be made by calling our offices directly or by submitting a request online by clicking on the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page.