Bunions, Hallux Valgus, and Hammer Toe VA Disability Ratings (2023)

Foot problems such as hammertoe and hallux valgus (which are more commonly called bunions) are some of the most common conditions that affect veterans. Because of the extreme physical demands often placed on people by the military, there may be foot pain and problems that last far beyond leaving the service. In some cases, these issues with your feet can become worse over time, as well.

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In this article about bunions, hammer toe, and other VA disability ratings for your feet:

  • Hallux Valgus and Hammer Toe Can Affect Quality of Life
  • Understanding the Kinds of Problems Hallux Valgus Causes
  • Bunions Can Worsen Over Time
  • Hammer Toe VA Ratings Count Too
  • Receiving a VA Disability Rating
  • Bunions are Not the Only Foot-Based In-Service Issue to Consider
  • Work With Trusted Professionals on Your Side Today

Whether your foot problems were caused by overall wear and tear or by a specific injury that occurred during your time in the service, you may be eligible for VA disability compensation. Knowing that can take the washed-out feeling you have from your disability and turn it into something that feels brighter and more cheerful.

Unfortunately, many veterans find thatthey don’t receive a disability rating that’s adequate to reflect the significance of the problems with their feet. A VA disability calculator may provide an estimate, which can give you a good starting point toward understanding what kind of disability rating your foot problems may qualify for.

The highest VA disability rating for hallux limitus is typically 10%. The VA uses 38 CFR § 4.71a, Schedule of Ratings—Musculoskeletal System, Diagnostic Code 5280 for bunions and related types of problems. Because of that, the VA rating for bilateral hammertoes and secondary disability hallux valgus is also similar.

It can be frustrating to struggle with a disability, yet have it be poorly recognized by the VA. But there may be ways to increase your VA disability rating for common foot ailments that are service-connected.

Bunions, Hallux Valgus, and Hammer Toe VA Disability Ratings (1)

Hallux Valgus and Hammer Toe Can Affect Quality of Life

If you have bunions or hammertoe issues, you may not be able tolead the kind oflife you want. You may also struggle to work, as the condition can cause pain and discomfort if you need to be on your feet for a particular type of job.

When you have hallux valgus, hammer toe, foot drop, foot calluses, or other types of problems, there are ways to get VA disability. The same is true for foot calluses, as well as other types of foot-related concerns. Without a VA disability rating for foot problems, you may find that you are not getting the help and support you really need.

The compensation for hallux valgus is particularlyimportant to people who are not able to work due to their condition. If you are in that position, the right legal help may make all the difference.

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Understanding the Kinds of Problems Hallux Valgus Causes

In order to really understand what hallux valgus causes, how it develops, and the issues that can relate to it, it’s important to have more knowledge of the foot. When a person develops a bunion, for example, it commonly comes from an injury to the big toe joint area. But it does not necessarilyhave to be a significant injury to begin causing problems.

(Video) VA Disability for Foot Conditions

Wearing boots that are ill-fitted, for example, may cause bunions to start forming. Some people have a genetic predisposition to bunions, as well, and they will them more easily than other people will, given the same conditions or level of injury.

A bunion forms when the bone at the joint where the big toe meets the foot becomes deformed and pushed outward as a bunion develops, which may cause pain and discomfort.

Over time, the problem may continue to worsen. It can start as a small lump or bump, and progress to a significant bulge that makes it difficult to wear shoes or walk without pain. If over-the-counter and doctor-suggested remedies do not work to solve the discomfort, then bunion surgery may be necessary. The problem may also occur on the joint of the little toe, where it is called a bunionette.

The movement of your big toe may become limited in the case of a bunion. That not only increases discomfort, but it may also mean that you can’t walk or balance safely. This could limit your ability to get around and hinder your mobility. If you can’t walk around, you can’t work. Even a desk job requires you to walk to and from your desk, which can be excruciating with bunions.

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Bunions Can Worsen Over Time

When a person deals with hallux valgus, they may not have a lot of issues with it right away. Bunions grow over time, especially if the conditions that caused them are not changed. In other words, a person developing bunions would want to stop wearing shoes that could be causing or contributing to those bunions. Of course, in the military that is not always easy, or even possible.

If that is the case, and affects the worsening of bunions over time, it is important to acknowledge that as a service-connected disability. Many people with bunions would not connect them to their time in the military, but the heavy boots and long marching times can contribute to the development of many types of conditions. This all gets worse with repetition, so you don’t have to list a single event for a service connection. We show that a long-term action that isn’t corrected often qualifies as a service connection.

Here one of our VA disability lawyers goes over the questions Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, is often asked about veterans’ disability claims and appeals.

Hammer Toe VA Ratings Count Too

Hammer toe isn’t a problem with the big toe as much as it’s a problem with your inner toes. When they are bent by injured tendons, they rise up or bend. This bend is what gives this condition the name “hammer toe.”

Shoes become very uncomfortable as hammer toe progresses. Walking is affected and running or any sort of exercise using your feet is out of the picture. People with hammer toe are also embarrassed to wear sandals because even though that eases some of the pain, it doesn’t hide their condition.

Bilateral hammer toe means that it is affecting both feet. Most people don’t have a single foot problem. Hammer toe is common with metatarsalgia which causes pain in the ball of your foot. Bunions and arthritis are common traveling companions. As all of these are diagnosed together, you want to list them all on your VA disability application. You may not be able to get rated for all of them, but each symptom can contribute to a stronger rating.

Receiving a VA Disability Rating

Before you can be approved for a VA disability rating for bunions or other foot conditions, will need to have evidence of your disability such as medical tests and diagnoses, as well as evidence of your time in military service.That will help you answer the “can I get disability for bunions?” question, along with others you may have about your bunions and how they might be connected to your time in the military.

(Video) VA Disability Benefits for Flat Feet or Other Foot Problems?

Once you’ve applied for your VA disability rating for hallux valgus or other conditions, you will need to undergo an evaluation. You will also need proof that your condition is related to your time in the service. To establish that connection, you need to have a disability that is current and has been diagnosed. There are exceptions to that rule, but a current diagnosis for foot-related issues is going to be very important in moving your case forward.

You also need to show that there was an in-service event or injury that was the cause of the bunions, the beginning of their development, or an issue that made them significantly worse. That link between the injury or event that occurred during your in-service time, and the condition you have today, is called a medical nexus. The nexus is the point at which two issues or events intersect.

The Nexus Letter is like the missing link to a successful VA disability compensation claim. In this video, one of our veteran’s disability lawyers explains the importance of the Nexus Letter.

When that nexus is provable, the VA should be willing toassign a disability rating and award a service connection. In some cases, however, the VA does not see the connection or does not want to make the same connection as the injured person. That can result in a denial of your VA disability claim, and a lack of ability to get the help and support you are looking for.

Call us to see if you have a strong case. We’ll go over your claim and ask you a lot of questions about your current conditions and what you experienced while you were enlised. Even for those with strong cases and clear health issues related to their time in the military, denials are common. Appealing will be necessary in those cases, and having knowledgeable professionals on your side can make a big difference.

Bunions, Hallux Valgus, and Hammer Toe VA Disability Ratings (2)

Plantar Fasciitis and Flat Foot VA Ratings

See how the VA rates flat feet after all of that marching with 100 pounds of the lightest kit in the world.

Learn About VA Ratings for Flat Feet

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(Video) VA Claims for Foot Pain: Plantar Fasciitis and Flat Foot VA Ratings

There are many other medical conditions related to the foot that may have been caused by time in the military. If you are suffering from hallux valgus, hallux limitus, hammertoes, foot drop, foot calluses, or any related concerns, you are not alone. You may also have more options than you realize when you have help to secure your VA benefits.

Just like bunions, severe calluses and hammertoes (where one toe crosses over the other) can be connected to in-service issues. These foot issues can come from improper footwear, worn for a long period of time, and the overall punishment that the feet of military personnel often take. It is important to acknowledge that there are serious issues with the feet that can affect the quality of life, as well as your ability to work.

As a service-connected disability, foot-related issues may not be commonly considered. Still, they have a big impact on what a person is able to do in life. It’s important to think carefully about foot-related issues and what may have caused the problems. Recognizing how feet got damaged canhelp a person work with their doctors and legal professionals on getting aVA disability rating.

Any problems with your feet should be checked out by a medical professional. But along with that, take the time to consider when the problems started, or if you sustained injuries or damage to your feet during your in-service time. Those types of injuries from the past could be directly related to issues you’re experiencing in the present. Rather than ignore them or simply treat them now, you may be eligible for VA disability that can help you receive compensation for your concerns.

With your doctor’s help, figure out the exact foot condition you are going to get service-connected. In general, the VAdisability rating for foot pain is found under 38 CFR § 4.71a: Schedule of Ratings: Musculoskeletal System. The eight diagnostic codes that apply to this schedule are found from5276 to 5283. These are, as follows:

  • 5276: Flat feet
  • 5277: Weak foot, bilateral
  • 5278: Claw foot (pes cavus), acquired
  • 5279:Metatarsalgia (anterior, unilateral or bilateral)
  • 5280:Hallux valgus (unilateral)
  • 5281: Hallux rigidus (unilateral, severe)
  • 5282: Hammer toe
  • 5283: Malunion ornonunion of tarsal or metatarsal bones
Can My Family Doctor Help Me with My VA Claim?

Work With Trusted Professionals on Your Side Today

By working with trusted legal professionals, you have the opportunity to haveyour VA disability case heard in a way that will get results. You also want to work with legal professionals when you appeal a VA disability denial because we have the tools and information to make your case and appeal as strong as possible.

The VA disability lawyers at Woods and Woods, The Veteran’s Firm, are committed to helping you maximize your compensation and get the most from your injury or appeal case. If you have a service-connected disability, getting in touch with us is the right step toward receiving a VA disability rating and the fair and just compensation you deserve.

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We are family-owned and have been in business since 1985, with a focus on making sure veterans can get the highest level of compensation for any injuries or events they sustained during their time in the military. We also help surviving spouses and children of veterans with claims for their deceased loved ones.

We don’t charge fees to help you apply, and you’ll only pay a one-time fee if we win your case. Contact us today, to discuss your VA disability concerns, current rating or appeal issues, and any other VA-based problems related to your hallux valgus or other foot issues. We’re here to help you get the fair and just compensation you deserve.

At Woods and Woods, the Veteran’s Firm, we’ve helped thousands of veterans with their VA disability applications and appeals. We’ve been adding staff and lawyers during the Covid pandemic to serve disabled veterans better in difficult times.

Call us today to discuss your VA disability appeal or your first application. The call is free and we won’t charge you a single fee until we win your case. We even pay for the postage for all of the documentation you send to our office. You can look for a VA disability attorney near you or call us and join the thousands of veterans living off of VA disability thanks to Woods and Woods.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get VA disability for claw foot and hallux rigidus without pyramiding?

No. 38 CFR section 4.71a specifically says that VASRD 5281 – Hallux rigidus, can not be combined with claw foot ratings. While the VA will do all they can to avoid pyramiding, you want to make sure whatever condition you are rated for is given full consideration. If you have symptoms that are linked to your service, make sure they count somewhere in your VA disability claim.

Why bother getting a VA rating for something that is only 10%?

Most of the veterans who call us end up getting more than one condition rated by the VA. The average vet got rated for 5.7 disabilities in 2020. That means when you call us about your bunions, we’re also going to look to make sure you can’t also get VA disability for arthritis, diabetes, PTSD, or sleep apnea. We check everything — for no cost unless we win your case.

(Video) VA Disability Compensation Benefits for Foot Conditions


What is the VA disability rating for hallux valgus? ›

The VA rates hallux valgus (diagnostic code 5280) as 10 percent disability for: Operated with resection of metatarsal head. Severe, if equivalent to amputation of great toe. Moderate tarsal or metatarsal bones, malunion of, or nonunion of.

What is the VA rating for right foot hallux valgus? ›

DC 5280 provides a maximum rating of 10 percent for unilateral hallux valgus. It provides for a 10 percent rating for operated with resection of metatarsal head and also provides a 10 percent for severe hallux valgus if equivalent to amputation of the great toe. 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a, DC 5280.

Are bunions and hammertoes related? ›

What you may not know is that bunions and hammertoes commonly occur together in the same foot, and are interrelated in terms of how they develop. Simply put, having a bunion makes it more likely that you'll develop a hammertoe.

Is hallux valgus the same as hammer toe? ›

Hammer toes (also known as claw toes, mallet toes or retracted toes) are toes that are permanently bent. Hammer toes are caused by hallux valgus or because your toes are squashed by poorly fitting shoes and/or socks. Hammer toes are most common in people who have bunions or high-arched feet.

Can you get VA disability for bunions? ›

The veteran's bunion of the right great toe with bunionectomy is currently evaluated as 10 percent disabling under Diagnostic Code 5280. A 10 percent disability rating is the highest rating assignable under the rating criteria for unilateral hallux valgus. See 38 C.F.R.

Is a bunion hallux valgus? ›

About bunions

A bunion (hallux valgus) is a deformity caused by the base joint of the big toe developing sideways. This pushes the bones of the big toe towards the smaller toes. If you have a bunion, try to stay positive. There's a lot you can do to help yourself.

What is the VA disability rating for hammer toes? ›

Hammertoe deformity is rated under 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a, DC 5282. Under this Code, a noncompensable rating is warranted for hammertoe of single toes, and a maximum 10 percent rating is assigned when there is hammertoe of all toes of the foot without claw foot.

Is hammertoe a disability? ›

The right and left foot hammertoe disabilities are rated noncompensable under 38 C.F.R. § 4.71a, Diagnostic Code 5282, for hammertoes of the third, fourth, and fifth toes. Under Diagnostic Code 5282, the criteria for a 10 percent rating are hammertoe deformity of all toes of the foot without claw foot.

Can you have both hallux rigidus and hallux valgus? ›

Hallux valgus and Hallux rigidus can occur together in a more complex foot deformity. Usually, the bunion deformity has progressed and then is injured by repetitive trauma or a distinctive injury.

What is a hammertoe v bunion? ›

A hard, painful bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe is called a bunion, whereas a hammertoe is a foot condition in which the middle joint of a toe abnormally bends, resembling a hammer.

Can your big toe be a hammertoe? ›

Hammertoe commonly affects the second toe and never the big toe. Joints affected. Hammertoe is a deformity of the inner joint of the toe.

Can hammertoes cause nerve damage? ›

The top of the hammertoe will often rub against the inside of the shoe, causing irritation that eventually can develop into corns and calluses. Nerve injury. Although rare, ongoing pressure in or against the toes can result in nerve damage.

What does hallux valgus indicate? ›

Hallux valgus is the most common deformity of the forefoot and the toes. 23% of 18-65-year-olds and over 35% of those over 65 years have hallux valgus. Due to the noticeable form it's also referred to as a bunion or ganglion. Here the big toe moves out of its alignment and points toward the outside edge of the foot.

Is hallux valgus arthritis? ›

Conclusion: Hallux valgus is prevalent in the community and is associated with age, female sex, and components of generalized osteoarthritis such as nodal osteoarthritis, knee pain, big toe pain, and self-reported osteoarthritis.

Can you have hammertoe and bunion surgery at the same time? ›

Often times, when patients with hammertoes have bunions or other foot deformities on the same foot, surgery can be done at the same time. When there are bilateral deformities (present of both feet) surgical options become more complex and may vary.

What is mild hallux valgus deformity? ›

Hallux valgus deformity is a very common pathological condition which commonly produces painful disability. It is characterised as a combined deformity with a malpositioning of the first metatarsophalangeal joint caused by a lateral deviation of the great toe and a medial deviation of the first metatarsal bone.

What is the VA rating for hallux Rigidus? ›

Diagnostic Code 5281 directs that hallux rigidus, which is unilateral and severe, should be rated as severe hallux valgus. 38 C.F.R.

Is valgus deformity a disability? ›

Abstract. Objective: Hallux valgus (HV) has been linked to functional disability and increased risk of falls, but mechanisms underpinning functional disability are unclear.

What is the difference between hallux valgus and bunions? ›

Bunions (also known as hallux valgus) occur when there is misalignment of the first metatarsal (one of five long bones that run from mid-foot to the toes) in relation to the big toe. The often-noticeable "bump" is not new bone or overgrowth of bone but actually the metatarsal itself.

What causes hallux valgus bunion? ›

Bunion. Bunions are usually caused by prolonged pressure put on the feet that compresses the big toe and pushes it toward the second toe. Over time, the condition may become painful as extra bone grows where the base of the big toe meets the foot.

What are the stages of hallux valgus? ›

Stage 1: Lateral displacement of the hallux at the MTP joint. Stage 2: Progression of the hallux abduction (hallux pressing against the second toe) Stage 3: Increased intermetatarsal angle, possible associated second hammertoe deformity. Stage 4: Partial/Complete hallux dislocation at the MTP joint[12]

Is hammer toe considered a deformity? ›

Hammertoe and mallet toe are foot deformities that occur due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons or ligaments that normally hold the toe straight. The type of shoes you wear, foot structure, trauma and certain disease processes can contribute to the development of these deformities.

What foot problems qualify for VA disability? ›

The VASRD offers ratings for the following musculoskeletal conditions of the Foot:
  • Loss of Use/Amputation of the Foot.
  • Broken Bones in the Foot.
  • Flat Foot (Pes Planus)
  • Claw Foot.
  • Hammer Toe.
  • Metatarsalgia (Morton's Disease)
  • Other Musculoskeletal Diseases.
  • Bunions (Hallux Valgus)

What is the VA disability rating for foot conditions? ›

Under DC 5284, a 10 percent rating is warranted for a moderate foot injury, a 20 percent rating is warranted for a moderately severe foot injury, and a 30 percent rating is warranted for a severe foot injury.

Can I get VA disability for high arches? ›

The claim of entitlement to service connection for bilateral flat feet is denied. The claim of entitlement to service connection for bilateral high arches also is denied.

Is hammer toe a form of arthritis? ›

It most often affects the second or third toe. Although a hammer toe may be present at birth, it usually develops over time due to arthritis or wearing ill-fitting shoes, such as tight, pointed heels.

What kind of pain do hammer toes cause? ›

Symptoms of hammer toe include foot pain, calluses on the sole of the foot, or corns on the top of the toe. Treatment of mild cases and cases in children can include foot manipulation and splinting of the toe. More severe cases may need surgery to straighten the toe joint.

Does hallux valgus affect balance? ›

Hallux valgus is associated with balance deficits, and has been implicated as an independent risk factor for falls in older adults.

Is hallux valgus a foot deformity? ›

Hallux valgus deformity – This deformity is defined as a lateral deviation of the hallux (great toe) on the first metatarsal (figure 4). The deviation of the hallux occurs primarily in the transverse plane.

What is the difference between hallux rigidus and hallux valgus? ›

Unlike hallux rigidus, hallux valgus is the result of your bones shifting, with the resulting protrusion going outwards, and not upwards like with hallux rigidus's osteophyte. Hallux valgus, or a bunion, with a bump on the left big toe. There are Several Phases of bunions.

How painful is bunion and hammertoe surgery? ›

Traditional, or open-foot surgeries for conditions like hammertoes and bunions can be very painful and force an individual to spend at least a day in the hospital. These procedures require large incisions along the feet to correctly realign the muscles and joints.

Is bunion and hammertoe surgery worth it? ›

Surgery is Always Considered for a Good Reason

Our primary goal for treating bunions and hammertoes is to help our patients find relief, and the condition itself does not always need to be “corrected” to do so. If we can do that through non-surgical methods, we will almost always prefer those over surgery!

Can hammertoes cause leg pain? ›

A hammertoe can result in improper distribution of your body weight, causing unnatural pressure or wear-and-tear on other parts of your foot and body. The chronic tightness in your muscles can cause sore feet. Inadequate foot support can stress other parts of your body, such as your knees, ankles, or back.

What causes hammertoe in big toe? ›

The most common cause of hammer toe is wearing short, narrow shoes that are too tight. The toe is forced into a bent position. Muscles and tendons in the toe tighten and become shorter.

What problems can hammer toes cause? ›

This deformity can cause pain and difficulty walking, and a corn or callus may appear on top of the joint. A joint going rigid, pain at the top of the bent toe, and swelling are some of the symptoms of hammertoes. If you have symptoms, see your healthcare provider or a podiatrist as soon as possible.

Can bunions cause leg pain? ›

Bunions & Leg Pain

What's more, bunions can indirectly lead to leg pain over time. If a bunion becomes severe enough, a person may have difficulty walking and thus adjust their gait to accommodate pain in their feet. This, in turn, may place added pressure on the knees, calves, or thighs.

Can bunions cause foot neuropathy? ›

Bunions may even cause nerve damage in the big toe, which can manifest in the form of burning and numbness. Bunions may be painful to the touch or cause dull, throbbing pain throughout the day.

Can bunions cause lower back pain? ›

Even a bunion could explain your lower back pain. When your foot changes shape because of this growth, your posture changes, too. And that can lead to back pain, especially since bunions can also make it harder to fit into supportive, close-toed shoes.

What is another name for hallux valgus? ›

Bunion and Bunionette

Hallux valgus, also known as a bunion, is the most common deformity of the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, resulting in the proximal phalanx deviating laterally and the first metatarsal head deviating medially.

Can hallux valgus causes back pain? ›

In other words, lower back pain can be caused by bunions, but bunions can also form due to lower back pain. While lower back pain is very common, there is a key differentiator in determining if your back pain is due to bunions. Typically, bunions cause back pain with prolonged walking.

Can hallux valgus cause hip pain? ›

Bunions can cause knee and hip pain

If your bunion pain changes your gait, your knees and hips are the first to notice, and they, in turn, make a change.

Can hallux valgus cause knee pain? ›

Hallux valgus is associated with a higher risk of foot and knee pain, [11] increased disability in women with knee OA, [12] and was linked to the progression of knee OA in a case study [45].

Is arthritis in big toe a bunion? ›

The pain of hallux rigidus is a result of arthritis in the joint, bone spurs, and possible loose bodies that break off from the bone spurs. The pain from a bunion, on the other hand, is caused by the bump rubbing on the side of the shoe.

What causes bunions and hammertoes? ›

Bunions and hammer toes are foot deformities generally caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. These conditions sometimes run in families whose feet are more susceptible to these kinds of injuries and are much more common in women.

How long is bunion and hammertoe surgery? ›

Your surgeon places stitches and bandages on your toe to help the area heal properly. The whole process can take anywhere from 45 min to 3 hours depending on the severity of the bunion and what needs to be performed to correct it.

Is hallux valgus gout? ›

Both hallux valgus deformity and chronic big toe pain are more common in people with gout than in age- and gender-matched control subjects [4].

Is hallux valgus bilateral? ›

Hallux valgus (HV) is a common anatomical deformity leading to pain and difficulty with footwear and mobility. Bilateral HV deformity is much more common than unilateral although it remains unclear whether the severity of deformity is equal between feet.

How does hallux valgus affect the body? ›

Bunions (Hallux Valgus) Pressure from the way you walk or your foot shape can cause a bunion, a painful bony lump on the outside of the big toe. Narrow shoes and standing for long periods can make bunion pain worse. If bunion pads, toe spacers and better-fitting shoes don't help, you may need surgery (a bunionectomy).

How do you test for hallux valgus? ›

Evaluation is primarily with plain radiography, with X-rays (AP and lateral weight-bearing) of the foot. Imaging demonstrates a lateral hallux deviation at the first metatarsal (normal hallux valgus angle is less than 15 degrees, and the intermetatarsal angle is less than 9 degrees).

What is mild hallux valgus with bunion formation? ›

Hallux valgus is a condition in which the big toe migrates laterally toward the second toe. This results in a bump on the inner side of the foot know as a bunion. It is related to a combination of genetic factors, activities and inheritance. Some patients who have this condition do not have symptoms.

What is the degree of bunion deformity? ›

There are different stages of a bunion which are shown below: A – Grade 1 (no deformity); B – grade 2 (mild deformity); C – grade 3 (moderate deformity); D – grade 4 (severe deformity). Conservative options have been reported across the literature with mixed results.

How many degrees is hallux valgus deformity? ›

The hallux valgus angle (HVA) is defined as the angle between the shaft axis of the first metatarsal and the proximal phalanx of the hallux (standard 15° angle). Several authors have suggested angles greater than 15° as pathological values.


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