Juvenile Bunion

What Is A Juvenile Bunion?

Derived from the Latin word “bunio,” meaning enlargement, a bunion is a sideways buckling of the big toe joint. The first metatarsal, which is the bone behind the big toe, moves outwards as the bunion develops, causing the big toe to move in the opposite direction toward the second toe.

When the bunion becomes noticeable in children and adolescents, it is called a juvenile bunion. The bunion is a structural problem and may be associated with a flat foot or tight Achilles tendon. The condition can run in families and is a symptom of faulty foot mechanics.  Bunions occur due to an imbalance of forces across the big toe joint.  It is the foot type that is hereditary, not necessarily the bunion. The Juvenile bunion may also be associated with a structural forefoot deformity (metatarsus adductus). The metatarsal head is typically more rounded which allows the bunion to develop earlier in life. 

What Are The Symptoms?

Pain from a bunion can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to walk in normal shoes, and sometimes even barefoot.  The bunion can hurt for two reasons: the first is due to pain from pressure on the prominent area and is worsened by wearing tight shoes, causing the skin and deeper tissues around the bunion to be swollen or inflamed resulting in bursitis. The second reason is due to poor alignment of the joint, leading to pain in the joint.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Treatments vary depending on the severity of pain and deformity. 

There are a number of splints on the market advertised to treat bunions but there are no conservative treatments that can reverse the process. However, wearing wider shoes or using a custom orthotic orthotics can reduce the symptoms associated with the condition. Orthotics can provide comfort by improving the mechanics of the big toe joint and bunion progression may be slowed down. 

Surgical Treatment

Left untreated, bunions tend to get larger and usually more painful. If at all possible, it would be ideal to perform bunion surgery after skeletal maturity, which in females usually occurs around 12-15 years old and in males around 16-18 years old. If the bunion deformity is too severe to wait until skeletal maturity, a procedure can be performed in the metatarsal head away from the growth plate.  Pain and deformity are significantly reduced but often times there will be a recurrence of the bunion deformity and another procedure may be required later on as the patient reaches adulthood.

The doctors at Ankle & Foot Clinics Northwest are experienced in treating the Juvenile bunion. We encourage you to make an appointment for an evaluation and we will discuss treatment options and develop a treatment plan tailored to your child.


We are your Seattle area Ankle Specialists, we treat the full spectrum of ankle & foot conditions simple to complex.  Whether you are in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, Bothell, Arlington, Mount Vernon, or Whidbey Island call us today to make an apointment and we can educate you on your condition and better yet find solutions!

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