Hallux Valgus – Causes, diagnosis and treatment

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Hallux Valgus is the development of a bony bump which is swollen and enlarged, on the joint at the base of the big toe due to excess pressure.

Over time this bump gets bigger causing the big toe to turn in toward the second toe.

Hallux Valgus - Causes, diagnosis and treatmentCauses of hallux valgus

  • Use of uncomfortable footwear that shifts weight to the toes
  • Excess use of high heels
  • Abnormal foot motion
  • Other factors that can cause hallux valgus include:
    • Loose ligaments in the foot
    • History of  injury to the foot
    • Hammer toe or removal of the second toe
    • Abnormal development of the foot/ Flat foot
    • Arthritis/gout

Risk factors, which may increase probability of developing Hallux Valgus, are as follows:

  1. Women are more prone to hallux valgus
  2. People with abnormal walking style/ rolling inward of the foot
  3. People with family history of hallux valgus
  4. Regular running

Symptoms of hallux valgus

Hallux valgus is painful and symptoms like swelling or enlargement of the big toe joint, displacement of the big toe toward the other toes, joint redness, stiffness & pain and irritation of toe skin are noticed. Pain associated with hallux valgus is constant.

Diagnosis of hallux valgus

Diagnosis of hallux valgus involves discussion about the shoe type used regularly, medical and family history, physical examination and tests. During physical examination, your doctor will observe the toe joint motion. He will also examine the reflexes, pulse and sensation of the toes.

Tests like x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT scan), or bone scan are used to diagnose the condition. These tests are done to find out the degree of deformity of bone and also help in confirming the presence or absence of hallux valgus.

Treatment of hallux valgus

Treatment of hallux valgus aims to counter the joint pain, other symptoms and also to prevent its worsening. Treatment options involve home remedies, medications, non-surgical treatments and surgery.

Non-surgical treatment aims at decreasing pressure on the big toe and these include:

  • Bunion pads, arch supports, or custom-made support to redistribute weight.
  • Felt patches over or around the pressure areas are advised to protect the affected joint from rubbing.

For medication therapy, pain relieving drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin can be used.

Surgery is recommended in patients with severe condition to restore normal alignment of the toe and to relieve pain. Surgeries that can be performed to better the condition are: bunionectomy, distal osteotomy and proximal osteotomy.

Home remedies for hallux valgus

Home remedies help relieve the symptoms of hallux valgus and it may also help prevent the condition from worsening. Home remedies include:

  1. Use of ice to reduce swelling and to relieve pain
  2. Avoiding exercises that put pressure on your toes
  3. Choosing wide shoes with flat heel, deep toe boxes and good arch support

Photograph via sxc.hu

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