Hallux Varus Causes, Types & Treatment Options
Surgical Podiatrists Treating Hallux Varus in Milwaukee
If your sandal gap causes pain or discomfort, consult a foot doctor before it gets worse.
Hallux varus is a deformity in the big toe joint that causes the big toe to angle away from the foot.
This creates a gap between the first and second toes, which is why this condition is also called sandal gap.
Symptoms of hallux varus deformity
Patients suffering from a hallux varus deformity may experience:
- Toe pain
- Difficulty wearing shoes
- Weakness & instability in the great toe joint (especially when ‘pushing off’)
- Difficulty walking or standing for long periods
- Decreased range of motion
- A curled or ‘claw toe’
If you’re in pain, have trouble finding comfortable footwear or struggle with daily activities because of a sandal gap deformity, Advanced Foot & Ankle of Wisconsin can help.
Schedule an appointment today at one of our five Milwaukee-area podiatry clinics for an expert evaluation and custom treatment plan.
What causes hallux varus deformities?
In the United States, hallux varus in adults is most often a complication after bunion surgery.
If a bunion is over-corrected in surgery, the big toe can be pulled in the opposite direction causing hallux varus.
There are several other types of hallux varus:
Congenital hallux varus
Hallux varus deformity can make wearing shoes or sandals uncomfortable.
Congenital hallux varus is rare. People born with hallux varus usually have other types of foot deformities as well.
It could be caused by an overactive abductor hallucis muscle (which flexes and extends the big toe), great toe polydactyly (having more than one big toe on a foot), and other growth or development disorders.
Congenital hallux varus has also been associated with a diagnosis of Down syndrome and neuromuscular disease such as cerebral palsy.
Acquired hallux varus
In adults, acquired hallux varus can be caused by inflammation from arthritis, psoriasis and other systemic inflammatory diseases.
The inflammation in the big toe joint causes the joint capsule to distend. This leads to slack in the connective tissue of the foot, and damages the surface of the joint.
Traumatic hallux varus
Traumatic hallux varus is caused by injury, often sports injuries, which hurt the tendons and ligaments in the foot.
Hallux varus vs Hallux valgus
Hallux valgus is another name for bunion, when the big toe angles inward and causes a swollen and painful bump at the big toe joint.
Hallux varus is also a foot deformity, but in this case the big toe angles outward, causing a wide gap between the first and second toes.
Hallux varus treatments
A mild hallux varus deformity is typically pretty flexible, mostly painless and does not cause a large enough gap to interfere with wearing shoes and walking.
When sandal gap is larger or causing pain and other issues, your podiatrist may prescribe medicine to reduce inflammation or steroid injections to reduce swelling. You may also need physical therapy to treat this condition.
Conservative treatments for hallux varus deformity include:
- Splint and/or taping
- Exercises and stretches
- Shoe orthotics or other modifications
If non-surgical treatments don’t relieve the pain or let you get back to your favorite activities, surgical correction may be required.
Hallux varus correction
Don't let toe pain keep you from living your life. We'll treat your hallux varus so you can get back to it.
Because most hallux varus deformities in adults are the result of complications following bunion surgery, revision bunion surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
Reconstructive surgery rebalances the pull of muscles and tendons on the big toe. This can involve tendon transfers, suture devices implanted in bone and other techniques.
Big toe fusions may be appropriate if the joint is stiff or arthritic. This can involve using metal plates and/or screws to hold the bones in the big toe joint closely together until they have healed (fused) into one solid piece.
Other surgical options can include arthrodesis, sesamoidectomy, medial capsular structure lengthening or total joint release.
Our surgical podiatrists and orthopedic surgeon are highly experienced in all types of foot and ankle surgery, and will determine the best type of corrective surgery if conservative efforts have failed.
Preventing hallux varus
There are some important things to keep in mind to reduce your chance of developing sandal gap deformity:
- If bunion surgery is necessary, choose a highly experienced surgical podiatrist. Ask questions, read reviews from patients and discuss the risk of hallux varus or other complications.
- Wear appropriate footwear (and if necessary orthotics) to ensure your feet and toes are protected from injury (especially when competing in sports or training).
- Consult a foot doctor the first time you experience pain, discomfort or limitations from a sandal gap deformity.
The sooner you have your hallux varus diagnosed by a podiatrist, the more likely it is to be treated quickly and effectively with conservative treatments.
Treating sandal gap deformities in five Milwaukee podiatry clinics
Untreated hallux varus can lead to more pain and even cause additional foot problems. Don’t let a sandal gap deformity linger and get worse. Call Milwaukee’s leading surgical podiatrists at Advanced Foot & Ankle of Wisconsin today for an appointment, and take the first step towards pain-free toes.