Children's Bunions (Pediatric Bunions)

Children's Bunion Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What are Pediatric Bunions?

A bunion, also known as ‘Hallux Valgus,’ is a bony-like bump that develops where the big toe joint is attached to the rest of the foot. Bunions in children are somewhat different than bunions in adults.

While adults can have extra bone overgrowth inflaming the bunion, this is not necessarily the case in children. Instead, children and teenagers often have structural complications where the bones tend to be pointed in too much, causing the cartilage of the big toe joint to move. This makes the big toe lean over towards the smaller toes, developing a pediatric bunion. Bunions tend to occur mostly among young teenagers, especially girls between the ages of 10-15.

Bunion Treatment for Children

What Causes Pediatric Bunions?

Bunions are a condition that is inherited in families. A common misconception is that bunions are caused by tight fitting footwear. Although some foot types are more prone to bunions, and narrow, pointed-toe footwear can trigger them, the condition was most likely already present. If your child has a bunion, they could be wearing shoes that are either too tight, have a narrow toe, or have a heel on them. While wearing heels does not cause bunions, it can make symptoms appear sooner.

Shoes can also be the cause of other foot issues such as corns, calluses, and hammertoes. Unfortunately, girls and children with flat feet are more likely to suffer from pediatric bunions and foot problems. Children with cerebral palsy are also more likely to develop bunions.

flat feet diagram

Symptoms and Diagnosing Pediatric Bunions

Symptoms

The symptoms of a pediatric bunion are: 

  • Swelling at the base of the big toe
  • A sore bump
  • Pain when wearing shoes
  • Discomfort when walking (with or without shoes)
  • Numbness or burning sensation

The symptoms of bunions may also be similar to other medical issues. So if your child is experiencing any of these uncomfortable symptoms, schedule an appointment today with our pediatric podiatrists or your doctor.

Diagnosing

At the appointment, an examination will be performed by one of our podiatrists. The podiatrist will do a careful physical examination of the child’s foot. This will involve looking at the:

  • foot alignment
  • weight-bearing alignment
  • walking alignment
  • movement of the affected joint

The podiatrist will also need to know what kind of shoes the child wears and establish if the pain is caused due to particular activities the child participates in. An x-ray can also be used to determine the severity of the damage and toe joint deformity.

pediatric bunions

Pediatric Bunions Treatment Options

Non-invasive treatments generally work well to treat bunions. Non-surgical options include:

  • Cold compress: To reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Modifying activities: Particularly when standing or walking for long periods.
  • Cushioning: Placing pads over the bunion to cushion and reduce pain.
  • Splints: To reposition the big toe to help relieve pain.
  • Medication: Taking anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, to manage swelling and discomfort.
  • Changing shoes: Switching to shoes that fit correctly and don’t compress the toes.

The podiatrist may also recommend custom orthotics to relieve pressure on the bunion.

In some cases the child may require bunion surgery.

The Importance of Seeing a Pediatric Podiatrist

If your child is suffering pain from a bunion, and it is enough to stop their regular activity, it is time to discuss treatment options. There are numerous treatments available, each intended to relieve the pain associated with bunions. A pediatric podiatrist has the training and expertise needed to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.Schedule an appointment with Dr. Jarman or Dr. Weintrub by calling (480) 534-7220 today. You may also schedule an appointment via our Zocdoc page.

Schedule an Appointment with a Pediatric Podiatrist

If your child has developed a bunion or needs treatment or advice, please schedule an appointment with one of our experienced, caring, and qualified podiatrists.

dr jarman with kid patient

Bunion FAQs

What is the leading cause of bunions?

Genetics. Bunions are hereditary,  and people who have bunions in the family, especially with particular foot shapes, are more likely to get bunions themselves. Tight fitting or narrow-toed footwear can trigger them, but are Genetics. Bunions are hereditary,  and people who have bunions in the family, especially with particular foot shapes, are more likely to get bunions themselves. Tight fitting or narrow-toed footwear can trigger them, but are not the underlying cause.

Can a bunion go away on its own?

Unfortunately, no. Bunions do not go away on their own and can often get bigger over time and become more painful.

What happens if you leave a bunion untreated?

If left untreated, a bunion will only get progressively worse over time. They can also cause further problems, such as arthritis in the joint of the big toe. The big toe can also push the second toe out of place, causing deformity.

Should my bunions be removed?

Surgery is the only method to remove a painful bunion. Bunion surgery (or pediatric bunion surgery) aims to relieve pain and improve the alignment of your big toe. Surgery is not usually given for cosmetic reasons. If your bunion is not painful, you do not need surgery.

Is walking good for bunions?

Painful bunions interfere with walking and exercising, and we can help them from getting worse. At Pediatric Foot & Ankle, we assist people with bunions to reduce their pain, increase the function of the big toe, improve muscle strength, and restore walking ability.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a bunion?

Surgery is the only way to remove a painful bunion, but foot and toe exercises can help strengthen the foot muscles. A doctor can prescribe medication or custom orthotics to relieve swelling and pain. A heating pad or warm foot bath may ease the pain and discomfort. Some people find that ice packs may help too.

Do cortisone shots help bunions?

Cortisone injections can be helpful for some people. Cortisone injections can relieve pain temporarily by reducing inflammation, but they can have side effects, especially when used often and at high doses.

How long do you need to be off work after bunion surgery?

Most people will need to rest for at least two weeks, recovery can take up to six weeks, and rehabilitation can add another six months. A patient may need to wear a surgical boot to stabilize the foot for the first two weeks, and then a brace may need to be worn.

Do toe separators help bunions?

Toe spacers, bunion pads, and bunion splints, which help realign the foot to normal position, are several non-surgical treatments for bunions. These treat the symptoms and do not correct the joint deformity.

Your child’s feet are designed for life

Make an appointment today if your child has Pediatric Flat Feet.
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