Hallux Varus: The “Anti-Bunion”

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

Hallux varus might not be as well-known as a bunion (hallux valgus), but the way this toe deformity can affect the shape of the foot is no less striking.

In a way, hallux varus is the opposite of a bunion. Whereas a bunion sees the big toe drifting inward toward its neighboring toes, hallux varus sends the big toe drifting away instead, as if being cast out of the family. And in many cases, hallux varus forms because an original bunion was overcorrected!

It is plain to see how hallux varus can cause difficulties in daily life. At Massapequa Podiatry Associates, we help patients find the relief, treatment, and/or correction they need to overcome this condition and get back to doing what they love with much less discomfort.

halux varus

What Are the Symptoms of Hallux Varus?

The most obvious symptom of hallux varus is naturally the big toe angling outward from the foot, creating a greater amount of empty space between the big toe and second toe. It is a very difficult symptom to miss!

The drifting of the toe can lead to one or more secondary symptoms as well, including:

  • Joint pain
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty walking
  • Trouble wearing shoes
  • Blisters, corns, or calluses where the toe rubs against the inside of a shoe
  • Increased instances of ingrown toenails

What Causes Hallux Varus?

The big toe can begin to drift away from the foot for several reasons. One of the most common, however, is overcorrection from a previous bunion correction.

There are many different forms of bunion correction surgery meant to address the deformity and the instability in the joint at the base of the big toe. Sometimes, typically in older procedures, these measures can go too far and create an instability going the other way, causing the toe to drift away from the foot instead of inward. 

Hallux varus can become obvious shortly following a bunion correction, or it may take years for the instability to show itself. 

Other potential causes of hallux varus include:

  • An inherited instability of the toe joint (such as having tight tendons), often present from birth
  • Instability caused by past trauma to the toe
  • Underlying nerve conditions

Treatment for Hallux Varus

We can provide expert evaluation, diagnosis, and care for all cases of hallux varus – including those that may have resulted from bunion corrections formed elsewhere.

Before recommending any form of treatment plan, we must be sure to fully examine the extent of the condition, its history, and its effects on your life. Not every treatment plan will be the same, and we want to ensure we provide the best recommendations to meet each patient’s personal situation and needs.

In many cases that are less progressed, conservative forms of treatment may be able to provide substantial relief. The methods can include:

  • Changing to wider, more accommodating shoes
  • A program of stretches or special exercises to improve strength and flexibility in the toe joints
  • Providing additional protection against friction in the form of padding or toe sleeves
  • Splints, taping, or other equipment to hold the toe in a more accommodating location

If conservative methods are ineffective, then surgery might be considered to restore stability within the toe. This can include cases that were a result of overcorrection to begin with.

Surgical procedures might involve manipulating the tendons, muscles, or ligaments to restore balance. In some cases, joint fusion may be the most favorable means of finding relief. Since the joint being fused was never supposed to move greatly in the first place, patients who undergo fusion typically find few inhibitions to activity.

Find the Relief Your Toes Need

Whatever the cause of any distress in your toes, you can rely on the experts at Massapequa Podiatry Associates to provide the management and treatment you need. The sooner such problems are addressed, the less of an impact they can have on your future!

Schedule an appointment by calling our office or by filling out our online contact form.