Most people regard bunions as being a medical condition that happens to older individuals. This isn’t entirely off-base, as most bunion deformities develop once people become older, but at Foot Specialists of Long Island we also see this toe deformity in younger patients. When this is the case, we typically address the symptoms of juvenile bunions with conservative options.
Bunions are a fairly common toe deformity, but most people still have some misunderstandings when it comes to the condition. The biggest misconceptions likely stem from the fact that there is still debate within the medical community over the origins of these deformities.
There is a strong possibility that you have heard that bunions develop on account of women’s footwear, particularly high-heeled shoes. This notion is both challenged and supported by various medical experts. Those who feel that pumps and stilettos cause bunions point to the fact that those shoes often squash toes together, while at the same time placing extra force on the front of the foot. Further support comes in the fact that adult females constitute a majority of bunion patients.
On the other side, it is pointed out that men and children can (and do!) develop bunions as well, and most individuals in those groups do not wear stylish women’s footwear on a frequent basis.
The most likely scenario is that people are prone to bunions due to a structural issue in the foot which can be exacerbated by footwear choices.
How Juvenile Bunions Develop
Since children are not sporting stylish stilettos and pumps, we find that juvenile bunions often develop as a result of overpronation from flatfoot or hypermobility in the big toe’s metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. The MTP joint is where the toe connects to the foot, and overpronation and hypermobility can cause it to drift from its intended position and begin protruding out from the inner edge of the foot.
Children can also develop bunionettes. Those who are unfamiliar with this particular issue may assume that they are simply smaller bunions. This isn’t entirely incorrect, but it doesn’t touch on the true difference—location.
While bunions form on the inside edge at the MTP joint of the big toe, bunionettes are found on the outer edge at the MTP joint of the small toe. Other than that, the conditions are essentially the same—mirror images of each other. The small toe’s phalangeal bones drifts inward, the metatarsal bone angles outward, and the MTP joint protrudes as a result.
Treating Juvenile Bunions
We find that nonsurgical methods can be quite effective at relieving symptoms, allowing young patients to lead active lives. Some of the treatment options we may use include:
- Activity modification – A juvenile bunion does not mean that your son or daughter has to avoid all activity, but it is important to find ones that do not put excess pressure on the affected foot. Cycling and swimming are great options.
- Footwear choices – Roomy shoes that feature wide, deep toe boxes and provide ample arch support will prevent irritation and inflammation.
- Pain relief – When there is toe pain from a bunion, ice and medications can be rather effective. Our office can give instructions for an effective icing regimen and dosage recommendations to keep your child safe.
- Custom orthotics – Orthotic devices are carefully crafted to work in accordance with your son or daughter’s unique foot structure and gait patterns. Orthotics can redistribute weight to keep it off of the affected toe.
For adult patients, especially those who experience severe pain or restricted mobility, we may recommend surgical procedures to correct the condition. This is not the case with younger patients. If surgery is deemed to be the best course of action, it will be held off until the child is older.
Professional Juvenile Bunion Treatment in Nassau County, NY
If you have a child who is experiencing pain or difficulty from a juvenile bunion, Mark Gasparini, D.P.M. and his team at Foot Specialists of Long Island can help. We are proud of the exceptional child foot care services we provide, so schedule an appointment with us today. Give our Massapequa, NY office a call at (516) 804-9038 for more information, or request a visit via our online form.