Bunions affect life quality in people of all ages

Multiple studies suggest that bunions affect quality of life

Bunions affect quality of lifeAn article in the March issue of Lower Extremity Review (LER) examines the outcomes of several studies pertaining to bunions and how they affect the quality of life in sufferers. The author found that while the deformity is most common in older women, it has an impact on all people - including young boys and girls.

The New York Times reports that people with certain bone deformities in their feet are more prone to developing conditions like bunions or hammer toe. This suggests that the issues may be hereditary, even though the problems are most often made worse by shoe choice and athletic activities.

The LER article took into account the data from four studies and the writer spoke with several experts. It was found that bunions commonly lead to severe foot pain, decreased function and activity, and can even be detrimental to an individual's self-esteem.

Lowell Weil, Jr., DPM, of the Weil Foot and Ankle Institute told the news source that a stereotypical bunion patient is a woman in her 40s who has an advanced deformity that she's become quite ashamed of. Often, she will try to change shoes, but pain persists.

"She could probably find an ugly orthopedic shoe that she could get into, but that just doesn’t work for her professionally or socially.” Weil said, quoted by the news source.

As bunions get larger, they become a source of embarrassment and sufferers tend to avoid showing their feet off in sandals or at the beach. Some even believe their foot deformities may affect their love lives.

In a study that was conducted at the Musculoskeletal Research Centre at LaTrobe University in Australia and Keele University in the UK, it was found that 36 percent of participants had some degree of bunion, or hallux valgus. The researchers found a correlation betweem severity of the callused bump and a worsened quality of life.

In 2010, a study was conducted at the University of Nottingham, in which a team of scientists found that general pain in the big toe - which included bunions - had a significant detrimental impact on perception of physical health as well as psychological and social domains.

California podiatrist Vincent Marino, DPM, said his patients tend to have jobs that require them to look fashionable and professional, and that includes footwear. This may lead to frustration if bunions occur.

Additionally, some patients are forced to alter their exercise routine to be less vigorous, which may lead to risks for overall health.

“We’ve had patients who said they were just unable to exercise. They can’t go for a walk even though the doctor says they need to walk for exercise," said Althea Powell, CPed, LPed, OST, quoted by Lower Extremity Review.

While youth is often associated with beauty, podiatrists say that bunions and hammer toe are affecting the younger generation, which can have a big impact on the fragile ego of an adolescent.

An article that was published last year in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research reports that 15 percent of girls under the age of 18 suffer from hallux valgus, as do nearly 6 percent of boys in that age group.

Moreover, foot conditions can worsen in kids who play sports or dance - especially in activities like ballet and basketball.

The article notes that the use of orthotics may help ease pain stemming from bunions or hammer toe, but that in severe cases, bunion surgery may be recommended.

Dr. Marino said that he takes the operation very seriously, and makes sure the patient knows what they're in for before undergoing the painful procedure since bunions have been known to recur.

“I personally drill into their heads that I won’t operate unless they know what they have to do afterward. I tell them, ‘If you don’t listen, then we’ll just end up doing this again,’" Marino told the news provider.

He said the use of orthotics both pre- and post-surgery can have a big impact on proper healing.

Additionally, the use of bunion splints to prevent or correct the conditions may help individuals avoid surgery altogether. 


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