When most people think of bunions they are probably not quick to think of it as a problem that children face. However, bunions are a problem that not just older people face. Since biomechanics (not footwear) causes bunions anyone of any age can find themselves with a bump on the side of their big toe.
What Causes Juvenile Bunions?
Bunion deformities are not just found in older adults, but can also be found in children (particularly teenagers). Bunions are caused by poor biomechanics in the feet, and not by footwear, which is a common misconception. If your child has flatfeet they are at a much higher risk of developing bunions at some point in their life. Many cases of juvenile bunions work like this: the first metatarsal head is situated much further away from the second one, creating an angle. The angle causes the first metatarsal bone to begin to move away from the second metatarsal bone (due to hypermobility). When this happens the big toe begins to point inward, in the direction of the other toes. This results in the bony protrusion known as the bunion. Of course, the shoes on your child’s feet can also exacerbate this process and make it more painful for them.
What Are the Treatment Options Available?
The overall goal of bunion treatment is to slow down the process and keep pain and discomfort at a minimum. The best way to do this is through the use of orthotics. An orthotic device will help decrease the hypermobility, which is creating the bunion in the first place. An orthotic device can also help create better alignment in the joint. It’s important to note that the orthotics must be worn at all times while movement is occurring because otherwise the whole purpose is defeated. If your child wears the orthotics only while at school but takes them off immediately when they get home then they are undoing all of the progress made. It’s also necessary to mention that if your child has not finished growing they are probably going to grow out of their orthotics, and they will need to be replaced eventually.
When is Surgery Necessary?
Sometimes conservative methods fail. It’s good to know that if this happens (for whatever reason) that surgery is a viable option. However, remember that surgery is not a 100% guarantee. In the instance of juvenile bunions it’s not always enough to perform a bunionectomy; the alignment of the joint needs to be considered also. There are several different methods of surgery that can be used, but your doctor will be able to come up with the best possible way for your unique situation. Bunions are never treated for cosmetic reasons. The only scenario in which a doctor would perform surgery for a juvenile bunion is if it is causing so much pain that even daily tasks feel like torture.
Finding a Podiatrist to Fit Your Needs
If your child has a bunion and you are concerned or have further questions please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in one of three Massachusetts offices. We know how important your children are to you, and we will do everything in our power to treat them with conservative methods so they don’t have to undergo surgery.