Science and technology in all their ground-breaking achievements remain helpless in the face of some of humanity’s very common problems particularly in health, diseases and injuries. Despite the many technological advances and scientific breakthroughs in health science, there is today a continuously growing number of known physical injuries to muscle and joints that have neither a definitive explanation nor lasting solution. Short of becoming a mystery, these problems continue to plague a substantial number of individuals.
One such almost health mystery is the bunion, a common disorder characterized by uncomfortable, irritating and often even extremely painful swelling on the first joint of the big toe. In simpler terms, it appears as a bony bump in the base of the big toe that forces it to stick out. To date, there is no conclusive scientific explanation on the causes of the disorder although it is widely speculated to result from abnormal foot function, mechanics, anatomy and genetic factors. Even more strangely, the bunions are very common among women which have led to hypothesis that it may be caused by wearing tight-fitting shoes, high heels and narrow toed shoes which is common among females.
But as it is, science explains that bunions involve bulging on the outside of the base of the big toe characterized by swelling, redness or soreness in area of the joint. Aside from causing pain due to swelling, it also restricts movement of the toe. For now, it is associated with arthritis particularly rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints instead of foreign substances like bacteria and viruses and often causes joint deformity.
In Singapore, bunion treatments vary in relation to the severity of the disorder, that is, the degree of swelling. As a basic, there are over the counter drugs aimed at relieve pain in the heel. Proven effective pain relievers in Singapore include ibuprofen, Advil and Motrin IB and naproxen sodium Aleve. Although effective in regulating pain, they do not treat the root cause of the problem and have no therapeutic applications as bunion cures.
And then there are the short-term solutions which are non-surgical in nature and only involve therapies such as rest and wearing wider or looser shoes or sandals with a supportive sole in order to often relieve irritation and pain. Using walking shoes instead of high-heeled styles cab also relieve pressure on the sides of the foot and can therefore help in natural healing. If the bunion is still in an early stage and with minimal deformity, using a bunion shield, splint or pad can help reduce pressure on the bunion can allow stretching of tight soft tissue structures particularly between the toes and prevent them from bulging. Other therapies also aim to manipulate joint structures to preserve mobility of the joint and prevent further deformity.
And of course, in Singapore, bunion surgery is still best for more severe cases characterized by deformities, pain and immobility. Bunion surgery involves restoring the big toe to its correct position by placing bones, ligaments, tendons and nerves back into correct order, to remove the bump.