How to Tell If Your Child Has Bunions (And What to Do)

Does your child have juvenile bunions?  What exactly is a bunion? A bunion is a bump  at the base of the big toe – the joint that connects the toe to the foot.  The bump becomes enlarged and sticks out.

While bunions are most common among adult women, they also tend to occur among young teenagers, especially girls between the ages of 10-15.  Bunions can become progressively larger, to the point where wearing any type of shoe is painful. The pressure from the big toe could force the second toe out of alignment, sometimes overlapping the third toe.

What is the best treatment for bunions? Bunions, particularly those that affect teenagers, are most often managed by switching to shoes that fit properly and don’t compress the toes. A  foot and ankle specialist can give you information about proper shoe fit and the types of shoes that would work best for your child.

The following are some general rules to follow when selecting shoes for your teenager:

  • Judge the shoe by how it fits on your child’s foot, not based on the size of the shoe. Sizes vary among shoes styles and brands.
  • Select a shoe that conforms as nearly as possible to the shape of your child’s foot.
  • Have your child’s foot measured regularly and have both feet measured. The shoe you choose should fit the largest foot.
  • Have your child stand during the fitting process and check that there is adequate space (about 3/8 of an inch) for the longest toe at the end of each shoe.
  • Make sure the ball of your child’s foot fits well into the widest part (ball pocket) of the shoe.
  • Do not purchase shoes that feel too tight, expecting that they will stretch over time to fit.
  • Your child’s heel should fit comfortably in the shoe with a minimum amount of slippage.
  • Walk in the shoe to make sure it fits and feels right.
  • Stretching the areas that put pressure on your child’s toes can modify some shoes.
  • Your child’s foot specialist may recommend splints to reposition the big toe and orthotics (special shoe inserts shaped to your feet) to help relieve pain.
  • Your child should wear these shoes at all times, or else risk the bunions coming back.

Surgery is not recommended for teenagers with bunions unless your child experiences sever foot pain that limits everyday activities, and if that pain won’t subside with non-operative measures. There are a number of different types of surgical procedures used to treat bunions. To learn more please contact our foot pain specialist today. Please call 626-447-2184 or 310-551-1711 to speak to a foot and ankle specialist.


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