Big toe deviation, or hallux valgus, is the most common foot deformity, also called big toe bunion. Its cause is the growth of an extra bony protrusion outward in the big toe. The pressure applied to the foot while walking, standing for a long time and wearing tight shoes can cause the big toe to deviate outward.
In addition to being a cosmetic problem, Hallux valgus can be very painful and negatively affect the quality of life. This complication can make walking impossible in advanced stages if not treated. To treat crooked big toes at home, it is first recommended to wear suitable shoes, special pads, and toe spacers. If these methods do not reduce the deviation of the big toe, then surgery is needed for treatment. Non-surgical treatment methods are much more effective in the early stages, which is why early referral and rapid initiation of treatment are essential. Hallux valgus is highly prevalent in society; this complication is more common in women and the elderly. Also, big-toe bunions are more common in people with flat feet or hammer toes. In the following, we will explain in more detail what the deviation of the big toe is, and then we will learn more about the symptoms and treatment methods of the variation of the big toe.
What Is Bunion or Hallux Valgus Disease?
If you search for hallux valgus on the internet, you will see pictures of bunions. A bunion is a bony protrusion that occurs outside the big toe. This deformity is caused by years of pressure on the big toe joint (metatarsophalangeal joint or MTP) and gradually causes the big toe to deviate outwards. In medical terms, this condition is called hallux valgus. Over time, hallux valgus can cause pain, swelling and arthritis in the big toe joint.
Bunions can occur in one or both feet; as we said, this condition is more common in women and the elderly. Generally, one out of three people suffers from hallux valgus.
What is the cause of a crooked big toe?
There is no specific reason for hallux valgus. It can be said that the simultaneous effect of several different factors plays a role in causing this disease. Genetics is one of the influential factors in getting it. Some genes make ligaments more flexible and thus increase the probability of bunion. For this reason, this complication has a genetic and family background to some extent.
Wearing ill-fitting and tight shoes, standing for a long time and putting pressure on the foot while walking can cause hallux valgus and deviation of the big toe in those with a genetic background of the disease. Having some risk factors also increases the probability of getting it; these factors are:
- Family history of foot abnormalities, such as bunions and flat feet
- Leg injury
- Inflammatory diseases that affect the joints of the feet, such as rheumatoid arthritis
A bunion is a Greek word meaning turnip. As the name suggests, a big toe bunion is a turnip-like bump outside the big toe that can be red, swollen, and painful. The following are its symptoms:
- Inability to bend the neck of the big toe or severe pain and burning sensation when trying to turn it
- Failure to wear regular shoes
- Thickening of the skin or corn on the feet
- Hammer toe (toughness and pain in the tendons of the big toe)
- Numbness in the big toe
Treatment methods for hallux valgus or big toe deviation
Probably, this question has also occurred to you, how is the deviation of the big toe treated? Unfortunately, once formed, bunions do not go away; therefore, hallux valgus treatment focuses on symptom management and relief. This treatment is divided into two parts: home and medical. To treat crooked big toe at home, you can try the following methods:
Bunion pads and tapes
Over-the-counter pads designed to treat bunions can reduce inflammation and reduce pain. Medical tapes can also keep the foot in the correct position.
Changing shoes and using the right shoes
To reduce the pressure on the toes, you can use shoes with wider toes. You can also widen the toes of your old shoes with the help of special tools.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and ice compresses can help reduce pain and inflammation at the injury site.
If the above methods do not work for you, the doctor will suggest one of the following methods or, in combination, follow a series of treatments to achieve the desired result:
- Orthopedic shoes: special orthopedic shoes can help to correct the foot position and reduce the deviation of the big toe. Wearing a splint overnight can also help improve and reduce symptoms in some people.
- Physiotherapy: Massage therapy, physiotherapy and ultrasound therapy help reduce pain and inflammation caused by bunions by reducing soft tissue adhesions. Some exercises can help improve the muscle strength around the bunion and thus improve the foot’s natural position.
- Local injection of steroid drugs: Local injection of steroid drugs can help reduce pain and inflammation in the affected joint. But if steroids are injected too often or into the joint, it may cause complications. Steroid injections are often used in severe cases of the disease and when there is no adequate response to other treatments to delay or prevent surgery.
- Surgery: Surgery is recommended in cases where non-surgical treatments do not help improve the patient’s condition and the severity of the lesion makes it difficult for the patient to walk. The surgery performed to treat hallux valgus is called a bunionectomy. During this surgery, the doctor removes the bunion and then realigns the toes to correct the misalignment caused by the bunion’s growth.
Complications of hallux valgus
Having hallux valgus, in addition to the painfulness of this inflammation and complications such as the inability to wear regular shoes, will also have side effects. Research shows that suffering from this condition can lead to the following problems:
- Creating bone spurs
- Bursitis (inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs around the joints)
- Hammering fingers
- Arthritis and joint inflammation
Hallux Valgus - an overview
In this article, we answered the question of what is hallux valgus of the foot is and examined its home and medical treatments. We have seen that hallux valgus, or deviation of the big toe is a widespread complaint that is mainly hereditary and familial. Big toe deviation can cause pain and inflammation in the MTP joint of the big toe, and in advanced cases, it can even make walking difficult. This problem is treated in two ways, surgical and non-surgical.
Treatment of hallux valgus without surgery includes measures such as the use of special medical pads and tapes, the use of orthopedic shoes, the use of drugs such as NSAIDs to reduce pain and inflammation, and finally, local injection of corticosteroids. If there is no response to treatment, surgery should be performed. The lack of treatment can lead to severe complications such as arthritis.
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