Almost every woman over 45 suffers from hallux valgus, hammertoes or splay feet

Almost every woman over 45 suffers from hallux valgus, hammertoes or splay feet

Image: APA (dpa/gms/Andrea Warnecke)

Frequently wearing shoes that are too tight means that more than 80 percent of women in Austria over the age of 45 suffer from misalignments of the forefoot such as hallux valgus, hammer toes and splay feet. Experts drew attention to this on Wednesday. The advantages and disadvantages of new surgical techniques such as minimally invasive procedures and the use of bone screws will be discussed at the foot congress of the German and Austrian specialist societies from May 23rd in Vienna.

Hallux valgus is the most common deformity of the forefoot. “80 percent of all women over 45 suffer from it. In 40 percent of all women over 45, the disease is so advanced that they require surgery,” said Hans-Jörg Trnka, one of the two congress presidents, a specialist in orthopedics and orthopedic surgery and co-founder of the foot center Vienna. The main reason for this clinical picture is “Western shoe fashion with shoes that are too tight”, and only six to ten percent of the cases of the disease are genetically determined. “Therefore, 90 percent of all hallux valgus patients are women.”

“Bunion”, “bunion”, “frostbite” or “crooked toe”

The problem, also known as “overleg”, “bunion”, “frostbite” or “crooked toe”, is a degenerative, civilization-related disease. “It is hoped that the current trend towards sneaker shoes will have a positive effect on the frequency of the disease. However, we will only see that in 20 years,” said the foot specialist.

“The foot has an extremely complex structure with 26 bones, over 33 joints, more than 100 ligaments and around 20 muscles,” so there are numerous surgical techniques that require specialist knowledge and experience, said Trnka. “There are over 300 different surgical techniques for the operation of hallux valgus alone, with around five techniques being used internationally.” Good follow-up care is at least as important as a precise operation: patients who receive physiotherapy after the operation show a healthy gait again just eight weeks after the procedure. However, without subsequent physiotherapy, those affected “often cannot walk well even after a year”.

Hallux valgus is a deformity in which the big toe moves out of line because the base joint of the big toe tilts outwards. This causes the foot to become wider; if left untreated, the big toe will slide under or over the little toes. This leads to further foot deformities and painful inflammation.

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