What is it?
Hallux valgus occurs when the joint of the great toe moves out of alignment. This movement causes the joint to deviate towards the lesser toes, and the joint centre to move towards the midline. A number of factors, such as footwear, genetics, and structural factors, can all play a role in hallux valgus’ development.
Is hallux valgus the same as a bunion?
While they often go hand-in-hand, hallux valgus and a bunion are actually two separate issues. Hallux valgus refers to the position of the joint, whereas a bunion refers to the bony bump that often forms when the joint changes position. An individual may have hallux valgus with or without a bunion, but the often occur together.
What do people experience?
Hallux valgus affects each person slightly differently, but there are some common symptoms that many people experience:
- Join stiffness
- Joint swelling
- Joint pain
- Development of a bump (bunion) over the joint
Other symptoms that are common as hallux valgus progresses include:
- Structural deformity in the big toe
- Structural deformity in the second toe; as the first toe deviates, the second toe may be forced to move over as it becomes crowded, resulting in hammering or crossing of the lesser toes
- Decreased balance
- Increased pressure under the big toe joint
- Difficult climbing or descending stairs
- Decreased joint range of motion
Unfortunately, hallux valgus has a genetic component that none of us can control. If Hallux valgus runs in your family, you are at a higher risk of developing it. Other risk factors include:
- Age: chance of developing hallux valgus increases with age
- Gender: studies suggest that females are at a higher risk, which might be linked in part to footwear choices
- Joint injury: repetitive or traumatic injuries may increase the risk of hallux valgus
- Activities: exercise or occupations that increase the stress on the great toe may increase the risk of hallux valgus
Options for treatment
Treatment goals for hallux valgus typically revolve around symptom management and maintenance of joint mobility and function. Early treatment and management is important and may provide greater joint stability and slow progression over time. Conservative treatment options include:
- Custom foot orthotics
- Toe spacers and sleeves
- Accommodative footwear
- Night splints
- Physiotherapy and stretching protocols
- Medications and injections
In severe cases, surgical interventions are necessary. These interventions should be discussed with your care team after conservative options have been exhausted.
For more information, check out our Injury Locator.
Still have questions? Contact your SoleScience Pedorthist for an individual assessment.