Pediatric Bunions – Kids Get Bunions Too!
It isn’t terribly unusual to think that adults are the only ones who develop bunions. After all, there is a perception that this condition is closely linked to stilettos and pumps – shoes for grown-ups. It’s important to understand that children can develop them, too. When your child needs care for a pediatric bunion, Dallas Podiatry Works is here to help!
The first step in discussing pediatric bunions is to become familiar with the condition. A bunion develops when the great toe (the hallux) drifts outwards in the direction of the little toe. A misalignment occurs at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, the joint where the toe meets the foot. The phalanges (toe bones) lean outwards and the metatarsal, the bone running lengthwise the foot, leans inward towards the other foot.
The bunion is the enlargement of the joint that protrudes along the inner edge of the foot. In adults, there can actually be an increase in size of the bone. In the case of pediatric bunions, this is purely structural. The pain occurs by irritation of surrounding bone and nerve. This affects a person’s ability to walk and comfortably wear shoes.
In adults, the pain is often exacerbated by wearing fashionable or high-heeled shoes (obviously not the case with pediatric patients). Yet all patients frequently have pain, indicating that shoes alone are not the culprits. Interestingly, female children are more likely to have bunions than males
Conservative Treatment Options
As with adult cases of bunions, the treatment objectives are twofold – address structural problems and manage symptoms. Managing the symptoms can often be achieved with the use of padding, changing activities, and avoiding shoes that are too narrow. With regard to structural treatments, toe spacers, toe splints, orthotics, and supportive shoe gear may be part of the plan. Orthotic devices can be particularly beneficial at bridging the gap between the two objectives.
Pediatric Bunion Surgery
Performing surgery for cases of pediatric bunions is generally reserved as a measure to be used only when other treatments are unsuccessful and the child is in pain. Part of the concern with operating on children at early ages is the fact that their bones are still growing, and accidental damage to a growth plate could disrupt a bone’s ability to grow.
That said, there are instances where surgical procedures offer your child the best opportunity to find pain relief and correct the condition. Typically, we would not want to operate on a girl who is younger than 13-15 or a boy who is 15-17, since this is about when they reach skeletal maturity.
The good news about pediatric bunion surgery is that, when it is necessary, the procedure is often quite successful in realigning the bone and correcting the bone structure.