Hallux valgus - what is it and how to deal with it?

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Hallux valgus Bunion Splint

Hallux valgus, commonly known as a hallux, is the most common foot deformity and at the same time a disease entity. Its characteristic symptom is persistent pain. They can be alleviated with the help of orthopedic ointments or separators. In acute conditions, surgical intervention is necessary. We advise on how to deal with hallux valgus and its treatment.

What is hallux valgus?

Hallux valgus is nothing more than the hallux known to everyone. In medical terms, it is a common foot deformity, characterized by a significant deviation of the big toe beyond the edge of the foot, or even its overlapping with others. The ailment may be asymptomatic at first but becomes very persistent at a later stage. Sometimes it completely prevents walking and makes it difficult to choose footwear. The protruding toe is also constantly irritated, which can lead to inflammation of the joint and bone growths, and to irreversible degeneration.

Many people blame uncomfortable shoes for halluxes, but this is not entirely true. The fact that mainly ladies struggle with valgus fingers does not predispose them to draw such conclusions. In fact, it is not only women who struggle with this ailment. Men also suffer from it. There is also a hallux valgus in children.

The causes of hallux valgus

The cause of valgus big toe is hard to define. Its formation is influenced by a number of factors. The main reason for the development of this ailment is the weakened muscle-ligament structure of the foot, which mainly affects women and children. The reasons are also mentioned:

  • mismatched shoes - especially shoes with narrow toes or high heels. They cause an increase in pressure on the big toe, its pain, and a slow development of inflammation;
  • gender - as we have already mentioned, women often struggle with valgus toes, but it is not only the fault of the shoes they wear;
  • genes - genetic predisposition to the formation of halluxes can be inherited from parents and grandparents, as long as they have struggled with this ailment in the past. The fault is metatarsal-shaped disorders or a significant weakening of the connective tissue, which is passed from generation to generation;
  • pathologies in the structure of the foot, as well as contractures in the area of the tendons;
  • flat feet ;
  • rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis ;
  • gout.

Hallux valgus is also favored by all mechanical injuries and congenital malformations, such as Down's syndrome.

Hallux valgus and its symptoms

The initial stage of hallux valgus looks completely innocent. It is asymptomatic and painless. Persistent complaints begin with the development of inflammation in the area of the metatarsal bone and head. Pain often makes it impossible to walk, let alone put on shoes. You can see redness and effusion in the metatarsophalangeal joint. Minor deformities can be corrected with orthoses or special separators, and pain can be corrected with local anti-inflammatory ointments. If the disease develops enough to show significant deformation of the foot, surgery may be necessary.

Valgus hallux diagnosis. Which doctor should I go to?

The diagnosis of hallux valgus seems simple because it is characterized by specific symptoms. Before a diagnosis can be made, however, the doctor must carefully examine the foot and determine the nature and degree of the deformity. An orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist is a specialist in hallux disease and we should direct our first steps to him. In addition to a thorough medical history and physical examination, he or she will certainly order additional tests. This may be ultrasound, tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. If necessary, a pedobarographic examination is also ordered. Its purpose is to assess the extent of pressure exerted on the sole while the patient is moving. The test result may be binding in terms of the need for surgery.

Hallux valgus - conservative treatment

Valgus toes are usually treated conservatively. The goal is to reduce pain and inflammation. If the therapy does not help, the only thing that remains is surgery. It is worth bearing in mind the tendency to inherit hallux, and if such circumstances occur, special care should be taken for the feet from an early age. The solution to the problem is wearing comfortable shoes, as well as frequent walking. This will avoid surgery.

When halluxes have already appeared and made our life difficult, we can reach for orthopedic separators. They are in the form of soft silicone inserts that are placed between the toes of the foot. The wedges and finger guards work in the same way. Their advantage is a soft structure that does not make it difficult to put on shoes or move around. In addition, they position the toe in the correct position and protect it from irritation. There are also bunion splints available for sale, which have movable joints and gel patches. The inflammation that accompanies valgus toes can be eliminated with a local ointment.

Learn about foot exercises to prevent bunions.

Hallux valgus - surgical treatment

Surgical treatment of valgus hallux is the last resort. The procedure is performed when other pain relief methods fail and the stage of the disease is severely deformed. The method of operation is also influenced by the type of distortion. The procedure is performed under general, regional or local anesthesia. Typically, this is an osteotomy or Scarf operation, which allows the bones to be fused without the need for a plaster cast. A sick person after surgery must wear a special shoe that weighs his foot down. Normal shoes may not be worn for several weeks after the operation. You should then take special care of your feet and follow the instructions of your doctor