Sensory dysfunction in the great toe in hallux valgus.
Herron ML., Kar S., Beard D., Binfield P.
Injury to the dorsomedial cutaneous nerve in the foot may occur after operations for hallux valgus. Pressure neuropathy before operation is also described but remains largely unexplored. We have investigated the incidence of sensory deficit in the great toe before operating for hallux valgus and examined to what extent any deficit was related to the degree of angulation of the joint. Forty-three patients with a total of 61 great toes with hallux valgus presenting for consideration of surgical correction had their sensation tested in pre-designated zones using a five-filament set of Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments. These allowed good inter-observer reliability with an intra-class correlation coefficient of 0.84. Sensory symptoms were noted by only 21% of the patients, a measurable reduction in sensation by one monofilament grade or more was found in an additional 44%. No relationship was found between the degree of sensory loss and the degree of angulation. Patients with symptomatic hallux valgus may have sensory loss in the toe without being aware of it. Normal subjective sensation does not reliably predict normal sensory function. Given the potentially high rates of nerve damage following operations for hallux valgus, we recommend objective sensory testing as part of routine assessment before surgery.