How Do Kids Get Bunions?

Children’s feet and children’s bunions aren’t quite the same as an adult’s.

Childhood is a fun and carefree time, without the worries and responsibilities of adulthood—or at least, that’s how adults like to think of it. Yet some “adult” issues and pains may not be as exclusive to adulthood as some people think. That’s certainly the case with juvenile or pediatric bunions. Bunions in children aren’t as common as in adults, but they can happen.

Pediatric bunions are a lot like their adult counterparts: the first metatarsal and the big toe slide out of their normal positioning and end up forming a large bump at the base of the big toe, where the two meet. This bulging joint can be quite painful for kids and make wearing some shoes uncomfortable. Unlike adult bunions, however, this deformity isn’t necessarily shaped by the shoes your child wears. So how did your child end up with a bunion?

For most children, bunions develop because they’re naturally prone to them. Maybe they run in your family, or your child has inherited a biomechanical weakness that makes their joint prone to bulging. Excessive pressure on the forefoot then encourages the bunion to form. This could be from flatfoot issues or something else that puts heavy pressure on the ball of the foot.

The good news for your child is that pediatric bunions are definitely treatable. Conservative care is usually best for feet that haven’t finished growing.

These include:

• Finding appropriate pairs of shoes. Shoes that are tight or narrow in the front are only going to cause irritation and pain from the bunion. Pick models that are wide and provide comfort.

• Using custom orthotics. These medical devices are helpful for controlling motion and reducing forces that would otherwise aggravate and worsen the bunion.

• Medication. Always consult with a doctor before administering medication, but over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce discomfort and swelling in the area.


In cases where conservative care isn’t enough, though, surgery is possible. The key is determining what will best benefit your child’s unique feet.

A bunionectomy is a surgery to correct a bunion, which is the painful bulge at the base of your big toe created by displaced bones. Usually, your big toe learns towards its smaller neighbors while the metatarsal leans away from the others. Conservative measures cannot fix the problem because the actual position of the bones in your lower limbs is affected. Noninvasive treatments can be very successful for relieving discomfort and preventing progression, but they cannot realign the bones. Surgical intervention allows your Indiana Podiatry Group surgeon to reposition the big toe and correct the malposition of the affected bones. It also allows them to deal with any extra bony growth or enlargement in the joint. This could involve shaving down and/or repositioning the affected bones. There are many different ways to perform a bunionectomy. What works for your child will depend on the shape and needs of your child’s foot and the extent of their condition.

Our foot and ankle specialists are here to help your family get the best possible bunion care at any and every age. Contact Indiana Podiatry Group to make an appointment to check out your child’s bunion today. Call us: (317) 773-7787

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