Hallux varus is a type of foot deformity that causes the tip of the big toe to point inward, away from the other toes on the feet.
People with hallux varus may have difficulty walking and wearing shoes. When the condition is mild it can be treated with stretching or splints, but if the condition progresses and causes serious pain, surgical intervention is often necessary.
Hallux varus is caused by trauma or congenital factors. Some people are born with a foot structure that predisposes them to a hallux varus foot deformity. Loss of the sesamoid bone can also cause a muscular imbalance in the foot that leads to drifting of the toe.
One of the primary causes of hallux varus is rupture of the ligament at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP or toe) joint. The condition often occurs as a complication from bunion surgery or occurs from trauma.
The drifting of the big toe is the most obvious sign of hallux varus deformity. Other symptoms of hallux varus can include:
- Chronic soreness.
- Difficulty walking or standing.
- Difficulty wearing close-toed shoes.
- Foot weakness.
- Ingrown toenails.
- Limited range of motion.
- Swelling and pain in the foot and ankle (caused by pressure on the toe).
Symptoms of hallux varus are aggravated when you wear shoes that crowd the toes. The condition does not cause joint pain. In fact, most of the discomfort associated with hallux varus is caused by friction between the toe and poorly fitting shoes.
In many cases, the diagnosis of hallux varus can be made with a physical examination. During the exam, the physician will check to see if the deformity is passively correctable. If it is, then usually, it can be fixed with a ligament reconstruction. If it isn’t, it is fixed with a combination of ligament reconstruction and soft tissue release with a possible medial sesamoidectomy.
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Mild hallux varus deformities can be treated with non-surgical methods. The goal of treatment is to reduce discomfort and symptoms associated with the deformity.
Non-surgical hallux varus treatment options include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications.
- Custom orthotics.
- Physical therapy (stretching the tendons in the toe).
- Steroid injections.
- Toe splints.