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Mostly women affected! Do you suffer from hallux valgus?

The big toe is crooked, the ball of the foot protrudes outwards – in the case of hallux valgus, the forefoot is deformed. The deformity can lead to severe pain, and in severe cases only surgery can provide relief. What you can do yourself to mitigate the formation? Tikbow spoke with an orthopedist.

What is hallux valgus?

The medical term hallux valgus stands for the crookedness of the big toe. The reason for this is that the tendons no longer run centrally across the joint, but laterally. The muscles in the midfoot pull the big toe inward into a crooked position, which changes the entire biomechanics of the foot.

This leads to an inflammation of the bursa, which in the long term becomes constricted,” explains Dr. Janusz Pomer from Frankfurt/Main. The result: a thick bump below the big toe. This not only looks unsightly, but is also usually inflamed and can cause considerable pain.

What are the causes of hallux valgus?

Dr. Pomer is convinced that the predisposition to hallux valgus is inherited in the second generation – "if your grandmother had one, it is very likely that you will also have one." In addition, wearing high shoes can promote the development of a hallux‘: "The higher the heel, the greater the pressure in the forefoot area and the more firmly the toe is pressed into the toe of the shoe," explains Dr. Pomer.

Hallux valgus on Röntgenbild
This picture clearly shows the knee deformity caused by a hallux valgus on the left foot;Photo: Getty Images

The fact that mostly women are affected is also due to their naturally weaker connective tissue, he said. The wrong footwear could have an even greater effect, – and that doesn’t necessarily have to be high-heeled. Also in flat, but too short or narrow shoes, the toes are strongly squeezed.

What can I do to prevent hallux valgus?

In the early stages, orthopedic shoe inserts that lift the metatarsal bone to reduce pressure can help. Although these provide noticeable relief, they cannot completely stop the development. Once the toe is crooked, surgery is the only way to straighten the foot position in an operation that takes about one hour, but the grace period afterwards can be very long.

Also interesting: DiY-Pedicüre – in 5 steps to well-groomed feet.

1. change shoes

Don’t worry, you can still wear your high heels. But: Before a long evening, put in a pair of flat shoes to change into after at least five hours.

2. take rest periods

As the heel height increases, so does the load on the forefoot and midfoot. Orthopedists give the okay for shoes up to eight centimeters – "but then it should be a comfortable model the next day to compensate, in which you can stretch out your toes", recommends Dr. Pomer.

3. buy the right insoles

As soon as you notice that your big toe is leaning to the wrong side, you should go to the medical center. Here you will find so-called pads: usually attached to insoles, hemispherical pads for the shoes. If you relieve the midfoot, you can keep a possible hallux valgus under control for the time being,” says the orthopedist.

4. create space for the toes

In open shoes or strappy sandals, your toes can relax better than in closed ones. However, this tip only works in the summer, unfortunately.

5. regular toe exercise

"Pick up something off the floor with your toes, a cloth for instance, and place it in another spot", advises Dr. Pomer. Repeat this process with both feet ten times – these gripping exercises strengthen the muscles around your metatarsals and toes.

Special gadgets such as toe separators can also provide relief: In October 2019, for example, entrepreneur Sarita Bradley introduced her "GoBunion sock" on the Gründer show "The Höhle of Löwen" – an invention that looks like ordinary stockings but has a softgel toe separator inside. 


– with professional advice from Dr. Janusz Pomer, Orthopaedic Surgeon in Frankfurt/Main