Hallux valgus: Everything you need to know about the foot deformity, prevention and therapy
The hallux valgus (bunion) is a real widespread disease that mainly affects women. But many cases can be avoided by prophylaxis. Our article describes the foot deformity and explains everything you need to know about prevention and therapy.
Hallux valgus: causes and symptoms
Hallux valgus is a deformity of the big toe: the first metatarsal pushes inward toward the edge of the foot, the big toe pushes toward the other toes, and a painful arch is formed.
The causes of this deformation are manifold: On the one hand, a genetic predisposition can cause the bunion. On the other hand, weak connective tissue and the wrong shoes – especially high heels, but also shoes that are too tight or too small – also contribute to the formation of hallux valgus. Usually it is a mixture of several factors that lead to a pronounced malposition of the big toe.
- Frequent standing.
The first symptoms usually include a splayfoot, i.e. a widening of the front foot, which almost always develops before a bunion, according to Apotheken Umschau.
If the big toe then pushes towards the middle toes and a bulge develops on the inside of the foot, the diagnosis is most likely hallux valgus.
At the first signs, you should definitely go to a doctor: Dr. Hubert Klauser, orthopedist, surgeon, hand surgeon and certified foot surgeon (GFFC), advises in an interview: “Please see a foot specialist in good time! I would estimate that around 75 percent of all those affected by hallux valgus present themselves too late.”.
Prevention is the best remedy against hallux valgus
So that it does not come only so far, one should prevent meaningfully and do to its feet regularly something good. If you take a few basic tips to heart, you can easily avoid at least external factors that promote hallux valgus: Prevention starts first and foremost with walking barefoot.
The basic problem, according to Klauser: “We walk barefoot too little – and too much on hard surfaces.” Most of the time we squeeze into shoes that are too tight and too pointy, even in everyday life. Therefore one should not wear shoes also still at home in the dwelling, but rather – if the temperatures permit it – barefoot go.
In winter, thick wool socks can be a good alternative. In summer, on the other hand, it is called: On soft grassy ground in the garden and in the park shoes off and walk barefoot! This is wellness and training for your feet at the same time.
Barefoot running is so important because it allows the feet to adapt naturally to different surfaces. On the other hand, wearing shoes causes the foot muscles, tendons and ligaments to atrophy more and more, according to this guidebook on the subject.
Who would like to train its foot musculature purposefully, can visit also special barefoot parks or – paths. Barefoot paths lead over a variety of different surfaces – for example wood, sand, gravel, earth or bog soil – over a short distance.
In addition, there are also longer hiking trails that are specially designed for barefoot walking. Mostly well developed and touristy, they contain pleasant and varied sections for the feet: for example
- through mud and slush,
- by small streams,
- balancing over stones or wood.
Special foot feeling paths and large barefoot parks often contain several different paths at the same time. A comprehensive directory of barefoot parks and trails in Germany, Austria and many other countries can be found on this page.
Therapy: foot gymnastics, insoles, special shoes and, as a last option, surgery
If the hallux valgus is already formed, it is too late for prophylaxis. But fortunately there are many good, proven therapy options. To alleviate the discomfort, insoles and foam pads for the shoes are worthwhile.
Special hallux valgus shoes also provide relief. These models are cut particularly comfortable and can facilitate everyday life – after all, there are many situations in which you can not easily walk barefoot. In addition to barefoot walking, there are also special exercises that strengthen the foot muscles and tighten the connective tissue.
“Physiotherapy is an important part of the therapy,” says orthopedist Markus Walther of the Apotheken Umschau. The exercises should be learned, then performed independently and repeated regularly. If nothing helps, surgery may be the only option.
According to foot surgeon Hubert Klauser, it is “difficult to say across the board” when the right time for surgery is. Surgery is often recommended when the toe reaches a certain angle of deformity, even if the patient does not yet feel any pain.
Waiting until it hurts, on the other hand, is not advisable – because the more pain you have, the more difficult the operation will be and the longer the subsequent healing process will take. The operation aims to straighten the toe again.