Bunions in Children: Dealing with the Bumps
You’ve likely seen the pictures of the feet of famous people like Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, or Cameron Diaz with a bump by their big toes. What you may not have known is that your own little star could be at risk for these toe deformities, too. Bunions in children are not as common as they are in women, but if you notice a bump on your child’s foot, don’t wait too long to have it checked out.
What Causes Juvenile Bunions?
Most of the time this toe deformity develops gradually over time, and most of the time in women. For years that made people think that wearing tight shoes caused the bunion. Pointy footwear certainly doesn’t help, and may speed up the process, but the culprit is more likely to be an inherited foot structure that causes the bones in your feet to move incorrectly as you walk.
This can happen in kids, too. In fact, no one is immune to developing a bunion, but there are things you can do to slow it down so it doesn’t become a painful issue for your child.
How to Recognize a Bunion
The most obvious sign is that large bump at the base of the big toe, but unfortunately, by the time you notice that symptom the deformity is already quite advanced. You may be able to catch it quicker and lessen the severity of the problem by watching for a couple of other indications.
One is to look at your son or daughter’s foot right after they take off their shoes. If you notice redness by the joint where the big toe meets the foot, it is possible a bunion is starting to develop. That is because as the metatarsal (foot) bone begins to move away from the others, that joint will rub against the side of the shoe, and the friction causes redness on the skin at that spot.
The other thing you might look for is calluses forming on your child’s foot. Because the problem is often related to flat feet and gait abnormalities, he or she may be putting a lot of pressure on the edge of the toe and joint. The skin then reacts by building up extra layers to protect itself. As the outer layers lose contact with blood supply, they harden and dry out, forming a callus. These usually appear along the sole at the inside edge of the big toe and at the joint where it meets the foot.
What to Do About Bunions in Children
As soon as you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to let us examine your child’s feet. If we catch gait problems early, there are many conservative treatments that can stop the progression of juvenile bunions and treat any pain or stiffness your child is feeling.
You can start by choosing shoes carefully. Don’t judge by brand names and style—find a pair that is comfortable, offers good support, and leaves plenty of room for toes to lie flat and straight. This relieves pressure on the toe and keeps it from displacing even more.
For any pain or stiffness, you can try icing the area, stretching, using donut pads around the bump on your child’s foot to cushion it, and giving them the type of pain reliever we recommend for your child if it is necessary.
We may recommend that your son or daughter tries custom orthotics to help cushion the area and balance the pressure on the foot. The goal of all these treatments is to stabilize the bunion and keep it from getting worse. That may eliminate the need for surgery further down the road.
New York’s Foot Experts Are Here to Help
For all of your child’s foot problems, you will find helpful, dedicated and expert podiatrists at the offices of Aadvanced Foot Care Associates. Visit our staff pages for information about each of our foot specialists and then call for an appointment at the location nearest you: Rego Park (718) 896-4433, Plainview (516) 822-9595, or Flushing, NY (718) 969-2266. You can also use our online form to request an appointment.