Hallux Varus: Keep Your Big Toe from Drifting Away

On the shoreline of an ocean or lake, you can often find pieces of driftwood. These particles may have floated hundreds or even thousands of miles to reach their destination on this particular strip of beach. Your big toe doesn’t need travel that far, but when it drifts away from the little toes and points toward the inside of your step, you have a toe deformity known as hallux varus.

When Your Big Toe Sails Away

This condition is often described as the opposite of a bunion. Your big toe actually points away from the second toe. In this instance, the first metatarsal bone stays in the correct place while the toe bone drifts to the inside. There are two types of this deformity: acquired and congenital. It’s important to know which one you have, as each will require a specific treatment tailored to you.

What Causes This Wreck

When you have the acquired version, it’s usually the result of a complication from bunion surgery, removal of a sesamoid bone, or a traumatic injury. The congenital version is less common and is most often encountered in infants. In that case, the child will have a tight or short abductor hallucis tendon.

Even though bunion surgery is one of the main causes of this condition, it’s still an uncommon result, which means that the chances of developing hallux varus are low. However, if you do notice that your big toe is drifting away from your second, it could be caused by too much removal of the metatarsal head, aggressive post-operative bandaging, or elimination of the fibular sesamoid. This sesamoid just so happens to attach to the abductor hallucis tendon. When the tendon has nothing to hold onto, it pulls the toe too far over. In cases of trauma, the tendon may be detached from the sesamoid when the small bone is removed due to fracture or chronic pain.

You Can Really “Sea” The Symptoms

A common complaint is pain when walking, due to ingrown toenails, or from the toe rubbing on the inside of the shoe. The deformity is also very visually apparent, as you can usually notice that the toe isn’t in its normal position. Your range of motion in the toe will most likely be decreased and you may notice the toe starting to exhibit symptoms of claw toe.

Stretches and Surgery Keep You Ashore

For congenital types, we may show your child how to stretch the tight abductor tendon in the foot. We can also splint the toe and recommend special shoes. Reconstruction of the tissues or bones is often a treatment for acquired cases of this condition. We will only suggest surgery if you’re still feeling pain and discomfort even after all the conservative treatments have been tried.

When you have the beginnings of (or advanced) hallux varus, you will need to visit Sierra Foot & Ankle to make sure your toe is corrected. Stop by our office in Carson City, Nevada or make an appointment beforehand by calling (775) 783-8037. For more helpful information on foot conditions, follow our Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest pages!