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Bunions in children

BMJ Group Medical Reference

How common are they?

Bunions don't happen only in adults. Some children and teenagers get them too. A study of 6,000 school children aged between 9 and 10 years found that 122 children had bunions. Some of the children didn't have any symptoms. But x-rays showed that the bones in their toe joint had moved out of line. [13]

When to see your doctor

See your doctor if your child has a bony bump at their big toe joint that hurts or stops their shoes fitting properly.

Treating your child's bunionsShoe insoles

Children's bunions are sometimes treated with insoles that go in their shoes. [19] Insoles are shaped like feet. You can buy them ready-made or have them specially made to fit your child's feet.

Doctors call insoles orthoses.

Insoles come in many shapes and materials. [19]

  • A soft, padded insole absorbs shock and cushions your child's foot.

  • A stiff insole supports your child's foot and shifts weight to another part of their foot as they walk.

Most insoles are made of both soft and stiff materials.

One type of shoe insole that's often used aims to stop the arch of your child's foot getting too flat when they walk. This way of walking puts pressure on the inside of their foot and may cause bunions. [13]The insole also stops your child's foot rolling to the inside. Doctors call this type of insole an antipronatory orthosis.

In theory, the support from this insole should stop your child getting bunions or stop their bunions getting worse. But research shows that this type of insole might make their bunions worse, not better. [19]

In the study above, one half of the 122 children with bunions got a shoe insole to wear, and one half didn't have any treatment. Ninety-three of the children had a foot x-ray again three years later. The x-rays showed that bunions had got worse in both groups of children but were slightly worse in the children who wore shoe insoles.

There isn't enough research to tell us if other types of shoe insoles for children might also be harmful.

Bunion surgery

It's possible for children to have bunion surgery to put the bones of their toe joint back in line. But most doctors say it's best to wait until your child's bones are fully grown. Having surgery too young makes it more likely that your child's bunion will come back soon.

Glossary

X-ray

X-rays are pictures taken of the inside of your body. They are made by passing small amounts of radiation through your body and then onto film.

For more terms related to Bunions

Citations

For references related to Bunions click here.
Last Updated: May 16, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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