Common hallux valgus disease: Pain caused by misalignment of the big toe
The so-called hallux valgus is a relatively common misalignment of the big toe. The foot appears considerably widened at the level of the first metatarsal and the big toe is crooked towards the other toes. While the malposition initially only represents a cosmetic impairment, significant complaints loom over the years. Sufferers experience massive pain and surgery may be required.
Women in particular are more often affected by hallux valgus. Possible causes of toe misalignment are - apart from a genetic predisposition - the wearing of wrong footwear and the so-called spreading foot. One in eight Germans suffers from a corresponding misalignment of the big toe, reports the German Red Cross Karlsruhe, citing a message from Asklepios Kliniken. This makes the hallux valgus "a real widespread disease today."
Hallux valgus turns every step into torture As one of the most common deformities of the lower extremities, hallux valgus is widespread, but the term is not known to most Germans. Since the toe deformity usually occurs initially without pain, it is often misinterpreted as a harmless anatomical peculiarity. The hallux valgus is initially usually only perceived as cosmetically disruptive. The moderate misalignment of the big toe at the beginning, however, often increases significantly over time. Those affected increasingly suffer from pain when walking. "If one or both of your big toes are crooked, life can be a pain," emphasized Dr. Jürgen Götz, foot specialist at the orthopedic clinic for the University of Regensburg in the Asklepios Clinic Bad Abbach.
Osteoarthritis as a result of the toe misalignment If the misalignment of the big toe increases, there is an increase in inflammation in the big toe joint and those affected have considerable pain. The second toe also suffers, the ball of the big toe becomes more and more dominant and causes more and more discomfort in the shoe, according to the Asklepios Clinic. In addition, the rolling behavior of the foot changes, which causes additional pain in the midfoot area. In the worst case, hallux valgus leads to osteoarthritis or irreparable wear and tear of the big toe joint.
The hallux valgus may require surgery. "If there are no other options to improve the position of the big toe and relieve the pain," surgery is required, explained Professor Dr. Joachim Grifka, director of the orthopedic university clinic in Bad Abbach. Depending on the cause and severity of the misalignment as well as any associated illness, the appropriate surgical procedure is selected from over 100 variants to bring the big toe back into the correct position. According to the biomechanical change that led to the misalignment of the big toe, a gentle surgical technique had to be chosen, which "corrects the misalignment, narrows the foot again and allows pain-free stress", explained Prof. Grifka To be able to move and stress the foot again without complaints. "We reject operations based solely on cosmetic surgery aspects," continued the doctor.
Wrong footwear as the cause of hallux valgus The increasing prevalence of hallux valgus due to the use of unsuitable shoes is a cause for concern, especially as this could be avoided. Footwear in the modern industrialized nations promotes the misalignment of the big toe, since the shape of the shoe usually does not take up the anatomical features of the foot or the sole of the foot. Shoes that are too tight, high-heeled and tapered to the front are a considerable strain on the foot in the long term, which leads to corresponding misalignments. Because modern women's shoe shapes often have these unfavorable shapes, women suffer particularly often from hallux valgus. (fp)
Image: Dr Henri Lelièvre (fr: Hallux valgus, en: Bunion)