Understanding The Foot: Hallux Valgus

What is it?  

Hallux valgus, or a bunion, is a commonly deformity of the big toe. This deformity causes the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint to be more pronounced on the inside portion of your foot, and can be painful while wearing shoes or walking. It is often seen as a bony prominence at the base of your big toe. 

There are lots of considerations to managing or even preventing this potentially debilitating pathology.  


Who could have it?  

People wearing or having;

  • Narrow-toed shoes can create pressure on your toes, usually pushing the big toe towards the other toes; especially important when children are growing up.
  • Incorrect biomechanics during walking or running can promote misalignment of the first toe when the foot takes off from the ground which would increase the pressure on the toe; thus creating an amplification of the onion.


What does it look like?  

As the human skeleton develops, the body adapts to the environment and stress to which it is exposed. Over time, the big toe will gradually drift from its optimal position and your foot will begin to compensate. This is when bone prominence begins to form. The bones of your feet will adapt to this forced position or to the wrong biomechanics, as well as your muscles, tendons and ligaments will also change to adapt to this position.


How can physiotherapy help?

Your therapist can advise you on the proper wearing of shoes and analyze your biomechanics of walking and/ or running. Here are some topics to discuss with your physiotherapist who will guide you with advice based on the scientific literature;

  • What kind of shoes are optimal for a hallux valgus?
  • Walk barefoot or not?
  • Which muscles has to strengthen to help align the big toe?
  • Can orthosis and/ or taping help?
  • Is surgery necessary and what to expect?

Looking forward to answering all your questions and doubts in clinic!