Runny noses, skinned knees, and scraped elbows are often associated with kids hard at play, but bunions are usually thought to be an adult problem, mainly for women who fancy high-heeled, pointy-toed shoes. The truth is, though, that kids can get bunions, too!
It might seem like an unlikely pairing, but we’re not kidding—kids and bunions can indeed go together, and when they do, problems can occur much bigger than a tissue, bandage, or kiss from mom can solve. If your child’s big toe starts to drift forcing the joint to protrude outward, it can make it difficult to wear shoes and participate in normal activities, especially those involving running and jumping. The bunion can become irritated, swollen, red, and painful. How can this happen? Well, bunions are typically the result of an unfortunate family inheritance, so kids can actually be born already prone to the condition. If you or other family members sport a bony protrusion on your big toe joint, extra care needs to be taken to prevent the same formation from showing up in your children’s feet, or at least slow its progression. Juvenile bunions have plenty of time to worsen, so it is essential they are treated at the first signs of trouble.
Preventing Pediatric Bunions
First off, make sure your kids’ shoes fit properly and aren’t squeezing toes—children grow out of shoes fast so be sure to check the fit often! Next, if you notice any signs of a bunion, address it right away. Kid’s bones are malleable enough to be manipulated, which means early intervention can stop the progression of the problem and keep symptoms at bay. Taping and splinting or using spacers at night can help keep the toe in proper alignment. Orthotics can help provide arch support and aid in the correction of faulty biomechanics that can be adding to the problem. There are also stretching exercises you can incorporate into your child’s daily routine that will help keep the muscles around the joint strong. As an absolute last resort, surgery can be considered but only if all other conservative measures have been explored to no avail.
Assessment is Essential
While the main culprit behind kids getting bunions is predisposed genetics, there are other reasons for the appearance of a bony protrusion. Flat feet and overpronation, joint hypermobility, and even juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, or neuromuscular disorders like cerebral palsy or Down Syndrome can be the source of the problem. That is why it is important to have your child’s feet assessed so that possible underlying conditions can be ruled out or treated promptly.
Find out more about pediatric bunions and what you can do about them, or make an appointment for us to assess your child’s feet by calling (949) 364-9255 (WALK). You can also reach our Ladera Ranch, CA office by using our online contact form. Don’t let bunions bum out your kids—let Southern California Foot & Ankle Specialists help you keep your children running, jumping, and playing strong, bunion pain-free!