Saturday, April 27, 2013

bunions, bunions, la, la, la

Have you ever come across a word that you inferred a meaning and then found out years later that it was not exactly correct?  The word "gout" was one of those words for me.  It was a word I only ever saw in boods: Dickens' works were full of rich, old men who had gout and sat around eating all day. I thought it meant something to do with too much food and no exercise.  What's so bad about that? Now I hear about gout all the time and have since found out it is caused by too much uric acid in the blood which crystallizes in joints, often the toes. So there.

Another of those words was "bunion".  I thought a bunion was a growth on the bone, either a knobby bit of something or the bone itself growing a bump.  Well, now I know that a bunion can be caused by scoliosis!  Well, kinda, in a round about way. 

My scoliosis impacts my pelvis, so that it tilts and raises one hip higher than the other, which means one foot hits the ground later than the other, which means my gait is uneven, which puts pressure on one foot, which means I have a bunion.

Oh, and bunion?  I know what is really is now.  It's real name is hallux abducto valgus. Rather posh, but "valgus" sounds too much like "vulgar" to be a good thing.  It's when the angle of the bone that goes from your foot to your big toe starts to get steeper, the big toe turns in and the angle point starts to stick out.  Ok, that's confusing even to me.  It's basically just a faulty mechanical stucture.  Now if only I had a good diagram I could show you what I mean.

Oh why thank you Mr. X-ray man!

See how the bone starts to stick out at the base of the big toe?  That's the bunion.  This poor fellow has a bunion on each foot.  I hope he has comfortable footwear. I certainly have to buy shoes a little differently.  If there's a seam or a stiff bit  my bunion rubs against the shoe and it gets red and blistered. 
my own sad little toes and bunion

If you have the same thing happening with your little toe, it's called a tailor's bunion or a- get this - bunionette.  That's so cute!  Or course I had to chase down the origin of that name and, as is usual, it originated hundreds of years ago, when tailors sat cross-legged all day.  Their little toes would rub on the ground, and over time turned red and became a painful bump at the base of the little toe.

And just like a rowdy queue at a concert, when one big individual (the big toe) pushes the line from one end, the others start to bunch up. The 'knuckles' of my other toes are now starting to rub up into the tops of my shoes. And, like the march of time, you can't keep a good bunion down.  All you can do it try to keep it from getting worse. 

Orthotics, ice, medications, change of footwear, toe spacers, bunion splints and bunion cushions. Surgery too of course but it's a tricky little operation and best left until all else has failed.

I have tried quite a few toe spacers.  some of them have a tendency to pop out of position, which is not good. They then drift around all over my feet inside my shoes.  The ones I like best are from Intelligel and no I am not being paid top say so. Mind you if Intelligel wanted to give me a ifetime supply of toe spacers I wouldn't say no, as my podiatrist and physiotherapist have told me I should wear them every day for the rest of my life.  Mind you, they are not expensive.  Even though I have feet on the smallish side, I wastold to wear the large ones as they provide the greatest benefit.

My yoga teacher recommended an even more adventurous option to wear when hanging about at home. I got them at one of the larger yoga studios in town. But in this case I was extremely careful to choose the smaller option as instructed.  Especially with my little, curled toes, trying to fit the larger choice was like a 14th century form of torture.  Now my toes can stretch and breathe!

Happy Toes!


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  2. I ordered these awesome toe seperators on there is a ton of them on their too. I suggest checking it out. I have scoliosis and am 28, had a 63 degree curve by age 12,and had a spinal rod surgery done. By age 9 however the bunion onnmy right foot which is same side as the scoliosis, became horribly bad and I had surgery to correct it that went wrong and I nearly lost my leg. I've chosen to not have more surgery and have an ugly foot but now a days I cannot wiggle my toes and it pulls on my muscle up my calf, thigh to my sciatic nerve as well and pull on my shoulder and my entire right side. I got these awesome seperators online like I said and now I can straighten my right leg, and put my shoulders back and am not in excruciating pain anymore!!!!:):)

  3. Thank you so much for writing about the bunion/scoliosis connection. At 17, I was told I had a mild case of scoliosis and it should be "watched". I watched one shoulder drop, uneven waistline develop, callous form on side of right foot's big toe and bunion on right toe blossom. All of this occurred over a period of 40 years!! At 58 this last summer, with no warning, scoliosis troubles really become noticeable (pain!!) and was diagnosed as severe. At 17 and all those years ago, scoliosis meant nothing to me except some kind of vague warning for a future that was unthinkable. So, thank you again for explaining all of this.