Hallux valgus in man
Hallux valgus in men is not uncommon
Can men also suffer from hallux valgus? This question is not uncommon, because information about the bunion almost always refers to women. This is because they are most often affected by the condition, which is said to be caused by wearing shoes that are too high. But men can also be affected by the foot malposition hallux valgus. We will explain how it occurs, how you can recognize the foot malposition and what you can do about it.
What exactly is hallux valgus?
Hallux valgus, also known as bunion, frostbite or bunion big toe, is a deformity of the forefoot. It is characterized by a splaying of the metatarsal bone on the inner side of the foot and an associated inclination of the big toe, with a tilt towards the other toes. The most common sufferers are women. However, in about one in eleven cases, hallux valgus is encountered in men. If left untreated, the condition worsens over time and can become very painful.
What are the symptoms of hallux valgus in men?
In most cases, the first sign of hallux valgus is an apparent enlargement or swelling of the big toe or the metatarsophalangeal joint. The metatarsophalangeal joint is the joint at which the big toe is connected to the foot. A lateral bulge forms here, which is actually caused by the joint sticking out. It may be reddened or sensitive to pressure and may hurt, especially in already advanced cases. In the early stages, however, it is usually only noticeable by its altered appearance.
Another noticeable symptom by which you can recognize hallux valgus in men is the slanted position of the big toe. Its tip points towards the other toes. As the deformity progresses, it increasingly displaces them, causing deformities in them as well. At a very advanced stage, the big toe may even overlap its neighboring toe. Frequent noticeable sequelae of hallux valgus in men are, in addition to pain in the joint area, bursitis and corns.
What do you do if you suspect hallux valgus in a man?
If the typical symptoms of hallux valgus in men also apply to you, you should quickly make an appointment with an orthopedist for clarification. He can usually recognize the deformity on sight and then orders X-rays. On the basis of the X-ray images, the so-called hallux valgus angle can be clearly identified. The hallux valgus angle provides information on how advanced your deformity is. Based on this information, the further treatment options can be discussed.
What are the causes of hallux valgus man?
One often hears that wearing shoes with high heels would trigger the deformity. However, this is not likely in hallux valgus in men. Even in women, it is only a reinforcing factor that leads to more rapid aggravation and thus more severe pain. Only the frequent wearing of ill-fitting or too tight shoes, can negatively affect hallux valgus symptoms in men. In most cases, however, hallux valgus in men is a secondary condition of another deformity, which may be congenital or acquired. The most common trigger is a splay foot. In this case, the forefoot is flattened and the toes are spread apart. A bone fracture healed in the wrong position can also lead to hallux valgus in men.
How does hallux valgus develop in men?
In a healthy foot, ligaments and joint capsule hold the big toe in the correct position. Due to malposition, heavy or insufficient load, they become weakened or worn over time. An uneven pull then occurs on the toe, bringing its tip inward. The resulting obliquity pushes the joint outward. The lateral pull cannot be corrected by the body itself, so the deformity becomes more severe over time. In the far advanced stage, the splaying of the metatarsal leads to the ball of the big toe taking on less load when walking. The other pads of the toes have to take this over and become overloaded, which leads to the formation of hammertoes and pain.
What factors promote the progression of hallux valgus in men?
One of the most important amplifiers of the development of hallux valgus in men is shoes that are too tight or too small. If the shoe presses on the toes laterally or from the front, this promotes the tip of the toe to move to the other toes. In addition, the ball of the foot becomes wider due to the malposition and pressure points can occur at the joint. Men who suffer from hallux valgus should therefore look for wide shoes with room for the toes and avoid tight socks.
Other preventable factors that promote hallux vaglugs in men are obesity and lack of exercise. Obesity increases the load on the foot, which contributes to wear and tear of ligaments and joint capsule as well as overloading the other pads of the toes. Lack of movement leads to lack of training of muscles and ligaments, which reduces their strength and elasticity. In addition, the movement of the joint promotes the formation of synovial fluid, which slows down the wear of the cartilage.
In addition, there are factors that cannot be influenced. These include, above all, inherited connective tissue weaknesses and congenital deformities. Rheumatic diseases and injuries to the big toe are also risk factors for hallux valgus in men that are difficult to prevent.
Does walking barefoot help against hallux valgus?
Sometimes you hear that you could cure hallux valgus by walking barefoot frequently. This information is wrong, because the already malpositioned foot cannot heal itself. However, walking barefoot exercises and strengthens the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the foot and promotes the formation of synovial fluid. Thus, it has a preventive effect and can support healing as an accompanying measure. In addition, there is no lateral pressure from shoes or socks, so walking barefoot at home can help relieve the pain of hallux valgus man.
What are the treatment options for hallux valgus in men?
A basic distinction is made between conservative and surgical treatment of hallux valgus. Which of the two is more recommendable depends on how far the deformity has already progressed and how severe the complaints are. In cases of only mild deformity without pain or severe wear and tear, it may even be sufficient to merely avoid reinforcing factors so that it does not progress to a painful condition. In other cases, mechanical aids can relieve pain and counteract further development. In cases of severe deformity, severe joint wear, and already severe pain when walking, surgical intervention is required to correct the toe position and restore pain-free usability of the foot.
What are the aids and supportive measures for the treatment of hallux valgus man?
The right shoes help to avoid pressure on the malpositioned toe. This prevents both pain and a more rapid worsening of the condition. Many manufacturers offer their own special shoes that are well suited both as an accompaniment to conservative treatment and to protect the toe during the healing phase after an operation. The hallux valgus shoes from hallufix have a corrective effect with their individually adjustable big toe loops.
Especially for hallux valgus in men, it is often a problem that special hallux shoes are mostly sandals. In bad weather, for manual activities and workshop work, however, closed shoes are required. Then Hallux valgus sufferers should pay special attention to shoe width and toe clearance when buying. The shoe should leave at least a thumb's width of space between the toe of the shoe and the tip of the toe, offer lateral space, but provide stable support in the heel.
Hallux valgus foot exercises or hallux gymnastics are simple exercises that can be done at home. They are designed to strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the foot and compensate for the unilateral traction that leads to the progressive deformity of the toe. This does not cure the condition. However, gymnastics can support the treatment and help relieve pain by stretching tense muscles.
Splay foot bandages
If hallux valgus occurs in men in combination with a splayfoot, both deformities must be treated at the same time. This is usually done with a hallux-splint. If you decide to use a different aid or do not need to correct a painless hallux valgus, you can use splay foot bandages or insoles.
Splints such as Hallufix Hallux valgus splint are the classic means of hallux valgus treatment par excellence. They are attached with bandages to the big toe and around the middle of the foot. As a result, they simultaneously act as a splay foot brace, pulling the metatarsals together, and correct the toe position by pulling outward. A joint that moves up and down allows normal use of the toe when walking. The splints can be used as a preventive measure or for conservative treatment or after surgery. They have a corrective and pain-relieving effect. The disadvantage of hallux splints is that they look conspicuous and require space next to the foot. Therefore, they are not suitable for use with any shoe.
Much more inconspicuous and adaptable are taping loops. These are soft and thin bands that you loop around the big toe and attach to the heel. They also pull the toe outward, but fit so slimly on the foot that you only have to pull socks over them to make them invisible to other people. Because they are so thin, they fit into any shoe suitable for hallux valgus sufferers and do not interfere with sports practice. Their disadvantage compared to splints is that they have no protective effect against lateral pressure. Also, no splayfoot treatment is included.
Softies are pads filled with soft gel that you can put between your toes. Hallufix offers two variants that are suitable for the treatment of hallux valgus in men. The simplest is the toe spreader. It is placed between the big toe and second toe and gently pushes the toe straight out. So the correction is not by traction as with splints and loops, but by pressure. The spreader is small and takes up little extra space. Those who have problems with pressure points or friction at the protruding big toe joint can choose the Hallufix Softies Bunion Protector PLUS instead. It is pulled over the toe and, in addition to spreading from the second toe, provides a lateral protective cover for the joint.