Effects of hallux valgus surgery on balance and gait in middle aged and older adults


Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center


Hallux valgus is associated with balance deficits, and has been implicated as an independent risk factor for falls in older adults. However, it is unknown what effect hallux valgus surgery has on static and dynamic (i.e., while walking) balance in older adults. We enrolled 13 middle-aged and older aged adults (mean age 54.3 ± 12.7 years, range 47 to 70) who underwent isolated hallux valgus surgery and followed them for 12 months. Preoperative and postoperative gait and balance performance was assessed using non-invasive body worn sensors with standardized and validated testing protocols. Visual analog scale (VAS) for pain and radiographic angles were also assessed. All subjects reported improvements in pain (VAS mean change -38.3 ± 10.3 mm), and all subjects demonstrated improvements in their hallux valgus angles and first/second intermetatarsal angles (mean change 16.3 ± 8.8°, and 5.5 ± 3.0°, respectively). While standing in full tandem, center of mass (COM) sway was improved upon by 59% at 1 year postoperative (p < .05, paired t-test). While most gait parameters demonstrated little change postoperatively, patients tended to spend less time in double support (p = .08, paired t-test), while gait variability increased by 55% (p = .03, paired t-test) and medial-lateral sway while walking increased by 43% (p = .08, paired t-test) 12 months postoperatively. Balance improved after hallux valgus surgery in our population, particularly when subjects were forced to rely on their operative foot for support (e.g., full tandem). Patients also seemed to walk with greater variability in stride velocity and with greater medial-lateral sway postoperatively, suggesting perhaps increased ambulatory confidence after successful hallux valgus surgery.

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