When many people think of bunions, they often imagine the culmination of many grueling sessions in high heels or other ill-fitting footwear. It’s thought to be a process that takes a lot of time and pressure, like a lump of coal being turned into a horrible, painful diamond. It can come as a surprise, then, when much younger feet develop that telltale bony bump at the base of the big toe. What gives?
Juvenile bunions are not often forced toward their current state by external pressures, but are more often the result of a genetic predisposition. A child can be born with the bones of their big toe pointed too far inward, or the cartilage of the big toe joint (the metatarsophalangeal joint—or just MTP joint to its friends) can be formed in a way that shifts the big toe toward its smaller brethren. Either case, or even a combination of both, can result in bunions in children
While juvenile bunions can feel like a stroke of bad luck, there’s a silver lining. Since a child’s feet may still be growing and developing, the condition may be easier to treat and manage at this point in time than bunions in adulthood. Custom-made orthotics may provide the cushioning and support needed to keep a bunion in check and help prevent it from becoming a problem during sports and other activities. In rare, more severe cases, surgery might be needed to correct the problem if other methods don’t provide relief.
The sooner juvenile bunions are discovered, the better the chances that treatments can lead to a comfortable future. The doctors at California Foot and Ankle Institute are always ready to provide expert advice and care for your child’s feet and ankles.