Preventing the Development of Bunions in Children

Just because you have bunions, doesn’t mean your kids have to get them, also!

Their grandmother had feet that could star in a horror movie.  You have painful bunions that have gotten larger with time and you cringe at the thought that they’re starting to resemble your mother’s feet.  So you curse your mom for passing along this inherited trait, concerned and disappointed that your kids will get them, too.  I’m here to tell you that while you passed along the tendency for them to develop bunions, you can also take action to prevent them from forming.

First of all, your bunion is not hereditary.  Most kids are not born with bunions.  What IS hereditary, is the mechanics of your foot, or the way your foot functions.  Your mom’s feet are not as stable as they should be, and that instability was passed down to you.  It may not be obvious, but your feet flatten a little (or a lot) more than they should.  They pronate too much, leading to a muscle imbalance.  Your muscles are trying to stabilize your feet by working overtime, or in ways that they shouldn’t   But instead of stabilizing your feet, they start to pull the bones and toes into positions where they shouldn’t be.  Over time, you start to see the development of a bump on the side of your foot behind the big toe, and your big toe is angled towards the second toe.  It’s not an enlargement of the bone, or an abnormal growth of bone.  It’s actually the normal contour of the bone; it’s just in an abnormal position.

So how can you prevent the development of bunions in your kids?  By addressing the reason that bunions develop in the first place.  Foot instability.  Excessive flattening of the arch.  Over-pronation.  There are lots of ways to describe the abnormal motion of the foot that eventually leads to the formation of bunions, and fortunately, it’s easy to address.  And, by the way, let’s dismiss the misconception that tight shoes cause bunions.  They don’t.  Tight shoes will make bunions painful, but they’re not a factor in their development.

You can prevent the formation of bunions, or at least slow down their progression, with custom shoe inserts called orthotics.  Custom orthotics are designed to keep their feet functioning with the proper support and control, eliminating the muscle imbalance that would otherwise lead to the development and progression of bunions.  In fact, when bunions are painful and surgery is needed to reposition the bone and straighten the toe, Our Kansas City foot specialists still recommend orthotics afterwards, in order to prevent recurrence of the deformity, by addressing the cause of the problem.

So, if there are bunions in your family, do your kids a favor and have them evaluated at Kansas City Foot and Ankle.   You may have unwittingly given them unstable feet, but it can be corrected, and together, we can take steps to prevent their small, beautiful feet from turning into Grandma’s.