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30 Hallux valgus





Clinical Presentation


Classification (Staging)

Physical Examination


Conservative Treatment

Operative Treatment


30.1 Introduction

 describes a forefoot condition in which the 1st metatarsal is medially deviated and the hallux is

Hallux valgus

laterally deviated creating a medial prominence at the 1st metarsophalangeal (MTP) joint that can be painful,

especially with footwear. The lay term 

, derived from the Latin word for turnip, 

, can describe the



protruding medial eminence that is characteristic of hallux valgus, but may also describe 1st MTP

enlargement caused by osteoarthritis, bursal inflammation, ganglion formation, or gouty arthropathy. Hallux

valgus can be associated with posterior tibial tendon rupture, neuromuscular disorders and inflammatory


With varying evidence in the literature, pes planus, 1st ray hypermobility, footwear, occupation, heredity,

Achilles contracture, and ligamentous laxity have all been implicated as causes for hallux valgus deformity. A

recent prospective study by Coughlin and Jones evaluated 103 patients with 122 feet treated for moderate to

severe deformity.  They found that:


83% of patients had a family history of hallux valgus

71% of feet with hallux valgus deformity had an increased 1st metatarsal length — 2.4 mm longer

when compared with the 2nd metatarsal

71% of feet had an oval or curved MTP joint surface

32% of feet had moderate to severe metatarsus adductus

34% of patients implicated shoe wear or occupation as causative factors in the development of their


23% of feet had plantar gapping at the 1st metatarsocuneiform (MTC) joint

13% of feet had increased 1st ray mobility as defined by 9 mm or more of motion determined by

Klaue’s device

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Factors that were not significantly increased in hallux valgus patients included pes planus (15%) and Achilles

contracture (11%).


30.2 Anatomy

Appropriate treatment of hallux valgus requires a clear understanding of the anatomy of the entire first ray.

The MTP joint is stabilized by ligamentous, tendinous and bony structures. The joint capsule is augmented

medially and laterally by the collateral and sesamoid ligaments. Dorsally, the extensor hallucis longus (EHL)

tendon is stabilized medially and laterally by the extensor hood ligament. Plantar to this extensor hood is the

extensor hallucis brevis tendon, which inserts on the dorsal lip of the proximal phalanx.

Plantar to the first MTP, the joint capsule is augmented by the lateral and medial tendons of the flexor

hallucis brevis (FHB). These tendons insert broadly onto the sesamoids proximally. Distally the

sesamoido-phalangeal ligaments serves as the extension of these tendons from the sesamoid to the base of

the proximal phalanx. The flexor hallucis longus (FHL) tendon runs between the sesamoids, bounded by a

firm sheath, and proceeds distally to the base of the proximal phalanx.

The abductor hallucis (AbH) tendon plantarmedially is contiguous with the MTP capsule and inserts onto the

medial sesamoid and medial plantar base of the proximal phalanx. The adductor hallucis (AdH) tendon is

plantarlateral and inserts on to the lateral sesamoid, the lateral capsule and the lateral aspect of the proximal

phalanx. This leaves areas of relative weakness dorsomedially and dorsolaterally, where only the hood

ligament augments the joint capsule.

The bony shape of the distal metatarsal lends some stability to the joint as well. Flat and chevron-shaped

MTP joints are inherently more resistant to lateral subluxation of the proximal phalanx, while rounded joints

are associated with hallux valgus.

In addition, the sesamoid complex is stabilized mediolaterally by a bony ridge or crista between the two FHB

tendons in which the sesamoids are embedded. This crista is typically eroded in more advanced stages of

hallux valgus deformity as the entire sesamoid complex migrates laterally.

The 1st MTC joint is stabilized by its capsule, ligaments, and adjacent 2nd metatarsal. Allowing for sagittal

and coronal motion and rotation, the orientation of this joint influences the degree of metatarsus primus

varus, as well as joint stability.

30.3 Biomechanics

The 1st MTP joint plays an important role in weight bearing. The plantar aponeurosis, by its attachment to

the base of proximal phalanx, helps to raise the arch and depress the 1st metatarsal, allowing it to accept


30.4 Clinical Presentation

In a series reported by Coughlin et al,  70% to 75% of patients reported a chief complaint of pain over the


medial eminence.

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Additionally, or alternatively, patients can present with forefoot pain due to a variety of associated problems:

Painful calluses

Inter-digital neuromas

Lesser toe deformities

Painful corns

30.5 Pathogenesis

Although there are many stabilizing structure crossing the MTP joint, there are no tendons attaching to the

distal metatarsal to prevent medial deviation. Therefore, normal alignment of the 1st MTP is a product of a

delicate balance of abducting and adducting forces.

In a hallux valgus deformity with a congruent MTP joint, this balance is stable. with the prominent medial

eminence causing irritation with shoe wear and a resultant bursitis or neuralgia or overlying tissue

breakdown. With an incongruent MTP, this balance is lost and the proximal phalanx progressively moves

laterally, pushing the distal metatarsal medially. The dorsomedial capsule attenuates, allowing the distal

metatarsal to move more medially as the AbH tendon slides under the metatarsal head. This subluxation of

the AbH pulls the hallux into pronation.

The common tendon of AdH tendon and the transverse metatarsal ligament apply a constant lateral force to

the sesamoid complex and, over time, the crista erodes and allows lateral subluxation of the sesamoids with

respect to the metatarsal head. At the level of the MTP joint, the FHL tendon moves laterally with the

sesamoid complex and accentuates the deformity. As the deformity progresses, the extensor hallucis

contracts, causing both extension and lateral deviation.

As the 1st MTP joint becomes less stable, less weight is supported by the first ray and the force is

transferred laterally within the forefoot, causing transfer lesions of synovitis and/or instability in the 2nd or

even 3rd MTP and MTC joints. In addition, the lateral drift of the hallux crowds the 2nd and 3rd toes, causing

or aggravating hammertoe, clawtoe deformities, overlapping toes, or a windswept appearance of these


30.6 Classification (Staging)

Hallux valgus deformity is classified by the degree of deformity as assessed by weight-bearing AP


 is defined by an intermetatarsal angle (IMA) of less than 13° and a hallux valgus

Mild deformity

angle (HVA) of less than 30°.

 is defined by an IMA greater than 13° but an HVA of less than 40°.

Moderate deformity

 is characterized by an IMA of greater than 20° and an HVA greater than 40°.

Severe deformity

However, the severity and natural history of the deformity and therefore the treatment plan is also influenced

by the stability of the 1st MTC joint and the congruency of the 1st MTP joint.

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30.7 Physical Examination

The patient’s foot is observed while walking, standing, and sitting. While weight-bearing, the hallux and

lesser toe positions, hindfoot alignment, and arch morphology are also observed. Range of motion of the

ankle with the knee flexed and extended, the subtalar joint and transverse tarsal joint are assessed. The 1st

MTC joint is evaluated for hypermobility and crepitus. The degree of hallux valgus deformity is assessed with

and without weight-bearing.

The 1st MTP joint is assessed for reducibility of deformity, range of motion, crepitus, and pain with motion.

The hallux should be reduced to a corrected position and put through a range of motion in the sagittal plane

to assess joint congruity. A joint that is concentric and spherical will typically reduce better and have a

greater range of motion than one that is squared or not concentric.

The lesser MTP joints are evaluated for synovitis, range of motion, and stability. The skin is carefully

examined for plantar callosities suggestive of transfer lesions, bursitis, and erosions. A careful neurovascular

examination is conducted to assess vascular status and the presence of interdigital neuralgias.

30.8 Imaging

A weight-bearing foot series should be obtained to assess forefoot alignment, including the presence of

lesser toe deformity, and evaluated for degenerative changes at the IP, MTP, and MTC joints. A

weight-bearing AP radiograph assess:



Distal metatarsal articular angle (DMAA)

Hallux valgus interphalangeal (HVIP) angle

MTP joint congruency

Sesamoid position

Degree of metatarsus adductus

This evaluation allows for classification and preoperative planning.

The lateral radiograph should be assessed for plantar gapping at the 1st MTC joint and dorsal translation of

the 1st MT relative to the cuneiform indicative of instability.

30.9 Conservative Treatment

Hallux valgus in most patients can be treated with conservative management; however, by the time patients

come to a specialist, most have tried and exhausted many of these measures.

Roomier foot wear with soft leather uppers and/or a wider toebox can supply relief from impingement

on the medial eminence and lesser toe prominences.

Shoes can be further modified by an orthotist, stretching regions where the shoe causes irritation.

Some patients experience relief from specific hallux valgus night splints, pads, toe spacers, and/or


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Custom orthotics may help by correcting associating conditions such as pes planus, flexible flatfoot

deformity, and ligamentous laxity.

Although orthotics cannot improve the deformity, they may provide some short term relief and delay the need

for surgery.


30.10 Operative Treatment

The goals of hallux valgus surgery are not only to correct the valgus angulation and pronation of the 1st

MTP, but also to narrow the forefoot by resecting the medial eminence and/or correcting the IMA. Other

surgical goals are to re-establish

Normal weight-bearing status of the 1st ray

Congruency of the MTP joint

Congruency and relationship of the metatarsal head-sesamoid joint

Just as there is a varying spectrum of pathology, there are various surgical techniques to address this

pathology. The simplest pathology is a 

, which can be

congruent joint with mild or moderate deformity

treated with a medial eminence resection, proximal phalangeal osteotomy, distal soft tissue reconstruction

(DSTR), or any combination of the three. A medial eminence resection, or Silver procedure, is generally

used in conjunction with other procedures and involves a sagittal saw cut in line with the medial border of the

metatarsal, starting just medial to the sagittal sulcus. This procedure does not correct abnormalities of HVA

or IMA and is prone to recurrence when used in isolation; overresection of the medial eminence can lead to

hallux varus.

, as characterized by a high HVIP angle, can be addressed with an Akin osteotomy,

Hallux interphalangeus

a closing medial wedge proximal phalangeal osteotomy. Usually fixed with a single Kirschner wire or screw,

the Akin may be all that is needed in a mild deformity with a congruent 1st MTP. More often, the Akin is used

adjunctively when there is a component of interphalangeus.

A DSTR or modified McBride procedure involves a lateral release as well as a medial capsulorrhaphy after

the medial eminence has been resected. The extent of lateral release depends on whether the deformity is

reducible. A full lateral release involves release of the metatarsal-sesamoid ligament and insertion of the

adductor hallucis on the fibular sesamoid, transverse metatarsal ligament, and, finally, the lateral capsule.

After the medial eminence has been resected, blunt dissection is carried out superficial to the medial capsule

down to the sesamoid to avoid damaging the medial plantar hallucal nerve, and a dorsally based wedge of

capsule is excised. It is important to realize that traditionally the McBride included a lateral sesamoidectomy,

which increased the risk of hallux varus. The capsular repair is conducted with 2-O nonresorbable suture

during a layered closure.

 can be addressed with a distal metatarsal osteotomy such as a

Mild deformity with an incongruent joint

Chevron osteotomy combined with a DSTR and medial eminence resection. A distally oriented V-shaped

osteotomy, the distal portion of the metatarsal is translated laterally up to 50% of the width of the bone to

narrow the forefoot. Described with no fixation or with screws or Kirschner wires for fixation, the Chevron is a

fairly stable osteotomy that can be used in isolation or in combination with the Akin when there is a

component of interphalangeus.

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When the DMAA is high, a biplanar osteotomy should be considered. The biplanar Chevron involves taking a

laterally based wedge at one or both of the limbs of the osteotomy to allow both lateral translation and

internal rotation of the distal piece to reduce the DMAA.

 Combining a Chevron osteotomy with a lateral


release improves the amount of obtainable correction; however, with the distal metatarsal blood flow already

decreased approximately 45% by the medial capsular release, the lateral release further decreases the

vascularity of the distal metatarsal . Although some studies describe radiographic changes in the metatarsal


head following this surgery, no studies describe symptomatic avascular necrosis



 requires a more proximal metatarsal osteotomy to correct the IMA at the actual

Moderate hallux valgus

apex of deformity. These proximal osteotomies are used in combination with a DSTR. The scarf osteotomy

is a midshaft z-cut osteotomy described by Charles Gudas in 1984 that allows lateral translation of the distal

metatarsal and with some modification of the cuts can allow biplanar correction.  Although this is a stable


and versatile osteotomy, there is a high rate of complication, with one series reporting 35% troughing (dorsal

migration with potential for supination of pronation malunion and functional unloading of the first ray) in

addition to 30% rotational malunion and 25% recurrence.


Other proximal osteotomies used for moderate to severe hallux valgus include the proximal crescentic,

proximal chevron, proximal opening wedge, lateral closing wedge, and oblique osteotomies.


 is conducted with a crescentic blade and is technically

proximal crescentic osteotomy

demanding. Although some length is lost with the curf of the blade, the congruent osteotomy can be

used to rotate the 1st ray to the desired IMA. There is a significant risk of dorsiflexion malunion of the

1st ray, although the addition of two Kirschner wires provides more stability.


 involves lateral translation as well as a medial opening wedge to

proximal chevron osteotomy

correct the IMA. The osteotomy has a distally directed apex and stable surface area that allows faster

healing time and resists the dorsal migration seen with proximal crescentic osteotomies .



 has become more popular as fixation hardware has

proximal opening wedge osteotomy

improved. As this osteotomy at least maintains length and some literature describes lengthening of

the 1st metatarsal,

 this method should be considered in cases of 2nd MTP overload and moderate


to severe hallux valgus or in cases of previous osteotomy and 1st metatarsal shortening. The

low-profile wedge plate provides a consistent and stable construct; however, it is the experience of

the principle author (LCS) that using more than a 5-mm wedge can lead to stiffness and overload of

the 1st MTP. It is also important to evaluate the DMAA and consider a distal closing wedge osteotomy

if correction of the IMA produces an incongruous joint.


 is conducted through a dorsal incision and is technically

lateral closing wedge osteotomy

demanding. Although a long-term study by Trnka et al reported 85% good to excellent functional

results, the incidence of hallux varus (27%), dorsal malunion (25%), metatarsal shortening (average 5

mm), and resultant transfer metatarsalgia (25%) makes this a less desirable option than other

proximal osteotomies.


, including the Mau and Ludloff, provide correction of the IMA and a broad

Oblique osteotomies

surface area for healing and stability. In a biomechanical study of six different osteotomies, the Mau

osteotomy was the most stable and significantly more stable than the Ludloff osteotomy;16 however,

the axis of rotation is more distal in the Mau than the Ludloff, thus providing less correction for the

degree of rotation.

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All of these proximal osteotomies require medial eminence resection (the bone of which can be used at the

osteotomy site) and medial capsular plication; excessive lateral release is associated with hallux varus



therefore care should be taken in assessing and modifying the soft tissue balance.

 can be treated with proximal metatarsal osteotomies, but sometimes requires fusion

Severe hallux valgus

of the 1st MTP joint or a modified Lapidus procedure. Fusion of the 1st MTP is especially considered in

cases of failed hallux valgus surgery, advanced arthrosis of the 1st MTP, neuromuscular disorders, and

rheumatoid arthritis. Fusion of the MTP converts the deforming force of the adductor hallucis into a dynamic

stabilizer, thereby narrowing the IMA. In a study by Coughlin et al with a minimum of 2 year follow-up,

patients reported a high degree of satisfaction and ability to wear conventional footwear, although there was

a 14% nonunion rate.


A modified Lapidus procedure is a fusion of the 1st TMC joint with a lateral and plantar based proximal

wedge to allow narrowing of the IMA. This should be considered in patients with 1st TMC hypermobility,

instability, or arthrosis or in those who have a previous failed hallux valgus surgery, but only if there is

adequate range of motion of the 1st MTP exists. A Lapidus can also be a good option for treating the

adolescent bunion if the epiphyses are closed.

After medial eminence resection and release of the adductor hallucis, the 1st TMC joint is exposed, denuded

of cartilage, and the subchondral bone is perforated. With this aggressive preparation of the joint surface, it

is not necessary to resect an actual wedge of bone to obtain correction of the IMA. If incomplete correction

of the IMA persists, it is most likely due to incomplete debridement of the joint.


A prospective cohort study of 91 patients treated with a modified Lapidus procedure for moderate to severe

hallux valgus revealed a very stable correction of the HVA when fusion occurred, However, 8% of patients

had a nonunion that required revision and 9% require removal of symptomatic hardware. Although a

modified Lapidus procedure is a good salvage procedure, it is contraindicated when there is excessive 1st

metatarsal shortening from a previous procedure (> 2 cm) and patients who smoke should be cautioned

about an increased risk of nonunion.


Regardless of the degree of deformity severity or the operative intervention chosen, a frank discussion of the

risks and benefits of surgery must be undertaken. It is also important to emphasize the amount of time it

takes for full recovery. Although rehabilitation varies from patient to patient, on average patients take up to 1

year to be fully recovered. When patients have this expectation set before surgery, the postoperative

experience is more likely to match their experience.

30.11 References

Coetzee, J. C.: Scarf osteotomy for hallux valgus repair: the dark side. 

 24(1): 29-33,

Foot Ankle Int,


Coetzee, J. C.; Resig, S. G.; Kuskowski, M.; and Saleh, K. J.: The Lapidus procedure as salvage after

failed surgical treatment of hallux valgus. Surgical technique. 

 86-A Suppl 1:

J Bone Joint Surg Am,

30-6, 2004.

Coetzee, J. C.; Resig, S. G.; Kuskowski, M.; and Saleh, K. J.: The Lapidus procedure as salvage after

failed surgical treatment of hallux valgus: a prospective cohort study. 


J Bone Joint Surg Am,

60-5, 2003.

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Coughlin, M. J.; Grebing, B. R.; and Jones, C. P.: Arthrodesis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint for

idiopathic hallux valgus: intermediate results. 

 26(10): 783-92, 2005.

Foot Ankle Int,

Coughlin, M. J., and Jones, C. P.: Hallux valgus: demographics, etiology, and radiographic


 28(7): 759-77, 2007.

Foot Ankle Int,

Easley, M. E.; Kiebzak, G. M.; Davis, W. H.; and Anderson, R. B.: Prospective, randomized

comparison of proximal crescentic and proximal chevron osteotomies for correction of hallux valgus


 17(6): 307-16, 1996.

Foot Ankle Int,

Jones, S.; Al Hussainy, H. A.; Ali, F.; Betts, R. P.; and Flowers, M. J.: Scarf osteotomy for hallux

valgus. A prospective clinical and pedobarographic study. 

 86(6): 830-6, 2004.

J Bone Joint Surg Br,

Kuhn, M. A.; Lippert, F. G., 3rd; Phipps, M. J.; and Williams, C.: Blood flow to the metatarsal head

after chevron bunionectomy. 

 26(7): 526-9, 2005.

Foot Ankle Int,

Mann, R. A., and Donatto, K. C.: The chevron osteotomy: a clinical and radiographic analysis. 


 18(5): 255-61, 1997.

Ankle Int,

Nery, C.; Barroco, R.; and Ressio, C.: Biplanar chevron osteotomy. 

 23(9): 792-8,

Foot Ankle Int,


Saragas, N. P.: Proximal opening-wedge osteotomy of the first metatarsal for hallux valgus using a

low profile plate. 

 30(10): 976-80, 2009.

Foot Ankle Int,

Shariff, R.; Attar, F.; Osarumwene, D.; Siddique, R.; and Attar, G. D.: The risk of avascular necrosis

following chevron osteotomy: a prospective study using bone scintigraphy. 


Acta Orthop Belg,

234-8, 2009.

Shurnas, P. S.; Watson, T. S.; and Crislip, T. W.: Proximal first metatarsal opening wedge osteotomy

with a low profile plate. 

 30(9): 865-72, 2009.

Foot Ankle Int,

Torkki, M.; Malmivaara, A.; Seitsalo, S.; Hoikka, V.; Laippala, P.; and Paavolainen, P.: Hallux valgus:

immediate operation versus 1 year of waiting with or without orthoses: a randomized controlled trial of

209 patients. 

 74(2): 209-15, 2003.

Acta Orthop Scand,

Trnka, H. J.; Muhlbauer, M.; Zembsch, A.; Hungerford, M.; Ritschl, P.; and Salzer, M.: Basal closing

wedge osteotomy for correction of hallux valgus and metatarsus primus varus: 10- to 22-year


 20(3): 171-7, 1999.

Foot Ankle Int,

Trnka, H. J.; Parks, B. G.; Ivanic, G.; Chu, I. T.; Easley, M. E.; Schon, L. C.; and Myerson, M. S.: Six

first metatarsal shaft osteotomies: mechanical and immobilization comparisons. 

Clin Orthop Relat

 (381): 256-65, 2000.


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