Hallux valgus is a common and disabling foot condition, however very little is known about how frequently hallux valgus presents to general practitioners (GPs), the treatments they provide, or the extent to which they refer patients to other health professionals.
We analysed data from the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health Program April 2000 to March 2016 inclusive. Patient and GP encounter characteristics were extracted. Data were classiﬁed by the International Classiﬁcation of Primary Care, Version 2 (ICPC-2) using two codes: hallux valgus (ICPC-2 L98007) and bunion (ICPC-2 L98001). Data were summarised using descriptive statistics and 95% conﬁdence intervals (95% CIs) around point estimates.
The dataset included 1,568,100 patient encounter records among which hallux valgus was managed 658 times, which equates to an estimated 60,000 GP encounters annually. Females accounted for 82% of all hallux valgus encounters, and the management rate was highest among patients aged 45 to 64 years. Hallux valgus was most frequently managed by referral to orthopaedic surgeons (28 per 100 encounters), counselling or advice (25 per 100) and referral to podiatrists (16 per 100). Pharmacological management was not frequently used (20 per 100) but primarily involved prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (4 per 100).
Discussion and Clinical Relevance
Hallux valgus is a commonly encountered problem in Australian general practice but is mostly managed by referral to orthopaedic surgeons or podiatrists. Further research is required to examine the factors that influence the selection of surgical and non-surgical treatment pathways by Australian GPs.