Your little guy or gal starts complaining that his or her foot has an “ouchie.” After looking at their foot, you see something that looks like a bunion. Is it possible? Do kids get bunions? And if they do, what is the best approach to treating bunions in children?
Believe it or not, children actually can get bunions, formed from a structural misalignment of the big toe joint. Children with flat feet also tend to have a high occurrence of bunions, as do girls. For adults, a bunion is the result of extra bone overgrowth, but bunions for children are different. Genetically predisposed structural problems can be the cause of a juvenile bunion, and when this occurs, parents often jump to conclusions, assuming surgery might be the only treatment option for their children.
If surgery is unavoidable, most surgeons suggest waiting until skeletal maturity in children, which usually happens sometime after age 15-17. Operating on juvenile bunions is different from adult bunion surgery. This is because the growth plate in the child’s foot is an important consideration for the surgeon. Dr. Neal Blitz, a physician who is well-published on bunion surgery, states in a recent article that non-operative measures should be initiated as soon as possible for children with bunions. Fortunately, simple changes can manage the symptoms of a juvenile bunion. They could even quite possibly eliminate the problem.
Because children are still growing and their bones are still malleable, try these tips before resorting to surgery:
If the Shoe Fits
Kids grow so quickly that tight-fitting shoes can go unnoticed. Changing your child’s footwear to a less aggravating and/or more supportive shoe can help alleviate the pain and limit the progression of bunions.
Try a New Activity
Though your little ballerina looks adorable in her tutu, a new activity that does not stress her feet in the same way may be a simple solution. Physical activities such as dance (and especially ballet) can often take an unnecessary toll on the feet.
Pad and Protect
The medical community has made excellent advances in the non-surgical treatment of bunions with foot orthotics. Toe spacers and splints can help re-align the foot and allow for proper weight distribution. Because children are sensitive to cumbersome splints and orthotics, Bunion Bootie is a possible option for them. With a reputation for comfort due to its thin and flexible fabric, children’s feet may better tolerate this splint. Bunion Bootie could alo help avoid children avoid surgical correction to their bunions, but even so, parents should always discuss these options with their child’s doctor before starting any treatment option.
Bunions can be painful for all who experience them, children and adults alike. And a child’s ideal daily life involves lots of physical activity, such as sports and running around during recess at school. They shouldn’t have to deal with the way in which bunions interrupt physical activity.
Conservative treatments are usually the best option for children with bunions. However, if those methods don’t work, consult a podiatrist for expert advice.