What to do with Bunions?

cross-posted from Aches & Joints


What to do with Bunions? Better to leave them alone.

A bunion is a characteristically large bony bump at the base of the big toe. This alters the alignment of the bones, causing the base of the big toe to angle out and crowding the tops towards the smaller toes. Bunions can often be painful and cause swelling, making it difficult to find comfortably fitting shoes. The big toe pushing against the smaller toes can result in irritation of the skin, forming painful calluses.

Bunions occur more frequently in women and can occur in children as well. Although some footwear can contribute to the deformity, it is not the sole cause. “People who develop bunions often have an underlying predisposition to acquire them, such as a family member who may have them, overly mobile joints, or a disease such as rheumatoid arthritis,” explains Dr A Holly Johnson, Foot & Ankle Surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Instructor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Traumatic injuries to feet or toes can also result in bunions. Bunions can occur in people with flatfeet (or over pronation) and may involve deformities of the smaller toes, such as hammer toes.

xray of normal foot (left) and a foot with a bunion (right) hallux valgus
Left: X-ray of normal foot while standing. Right: Foot with a bunion, also called hallux valgus. Notice the bony protuberance and the large angle at the base of the big toe. The top of the big toe is seen crowding towards the smaller toes. Continue reading “What to do with Bunions?”

Video: How to do a Pec Fly & Chest Press

I don’t do weights! But my trainer friends urge me to build muscle tone. “It will help your running,” they argue. I do anything which helps my running.
Continue reading “Video: How to do a Pec Fly & Chest Press”

Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis

If you are a runner, sooner or later you will encounter heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. While there is no cure, simple exercises can take care of it.

Plantar fascia is the tissue band running along the bottom of the foot. Excessive walking, running, or irritation can inflame the tissues, causing severe heel pain. See my previous article on Treating Heel Pain with simple exercises. Here is another, very effective heel-leg stretch. Similar to others, this stretch takes less than 2 minutes. Continue reading “Heel, Calf, Hamstring Stretch for Plantar Fasciitis”

Embrace Infant Incubators

A global partnership for children, including the WHO and UNICEF, report that annually, 4 million babies die within the first 30 days of birth. Why are 4 million babies dying? Concise 2 and 1/2 page article. The common causes are infection, birth asphyxia and premature (including low birth weight) births. Premature and low-weight babies are particularly susceptible to hypothermia and need to be kept warm.

In the well-off world, such babies are placed in expensive incubators (costing upwards of $10,000), while vital signs are monitored and stabilized. In much of the developing world such luxuries do not exist and babies continue to die off. Multinational medical device companies are quick to donate expensive equipment to far off locales. Consider that in places where infant mortality is very high, there is likely no electricity to power incubators and no trained personnel to operate them. Most of the equipment is completely useless and gathers dust.

This lack of understanding local constrainsts leads me to believe that most expensive equipment donations are made primarily for tax right-offs and a way to showcase social responsibility to shareholders. But thankfully, social entrepreneurs in small teams are continuing efforts to develop baby incubators for the developing world.


Here is a creative solution by EmbraceGlobal: A sleeping bag-like device with an add-on warming pouch. It does not require electricity, is portable and costs $25. At that price, they are near disposable and can go home with the baby. Most likely, parents don’t have anything nicer to put the baby to sleep in.

A Neonatologist I spoke to voiced concern that for critical babies, it is important to be able to see the chest of the baby rise and fall as it breathes. I think this can be addressed by a zipper (or velcro) on the sides of the bag. These will also make it easier to get the baby in and out of the bag, and provide ventilation.

I think $25 is still a steep price for essentially a wrap-around quilt. If folks can build a laptop for $100, then such a sleeping bag should not cost more than $1! Yes, One dollar!

Any of you have ideas for modifying the designs to address local needs? Can this be made of locally sourced materials? How about involving micro-finance based women’s groups to fabricate/assemble them locally? This could improve their livelihood as well. Perhaps this may trigger other solutions in the local populations.

Make it for $1! Any takers?

Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai

swine flu Mumbai face masks pics by Arun Shanbhag
No, he was not trying to hijack the BEST bus in Mumbai; he was terrified about the nasty virus causing swine flu!

But that makeshift mask in a crowded bus surely got me panicky. Should I be around Mumbai using public transportation, where the buses and trains are stuffed tighter than, … than, … mumbaikars in buses and trains? And when I had Meera with me?

During my August visit to Mumbai, everyone was in full “epidemic” mode. Even at the Airport! Before reaching immigration, we filled out personal history forms and the overworked health workers simply waved us on. I hope you feel reassured.

Headlines in city newspapers screamed at every cough and sniffle. The Mumbai city council finally ordered schools, colleges, tuition classes and many govt offices closed for 3 days. Private companies gave employees furlough to work from home! And this was supposed to be my vacation. We all came through fine, and a renewed interest in Ayurvedic attempts to strengthen the immune response. Continue reading “Face of Swine Flu in Mumbai”

Abs Express: Aphrodisiac Abs in 15 minutes

Here’s the Abs Express Class at our health club (Clubs at Charles River Park, Boston, MA). Its a quick 15 min class, once a week. But what a workout. Fast and tough! Give it a try and see if you can keep up with Certified Trainer, Pete ‘Rock’ Reynolds.

Pete entertains you during the entire routine. For this recording I pleaded with Pete to keep his comments PG, which he did. And he’s the go-to guy, anytime you need a quick workout tip. Thank you, Pete.

When you are onvacation, no more excuses, Just follow along with this video and do your crunches. 15 minutes, and as Pete likes to say, you’ll end up with aphrodisiac abs!


From My Archives: Simple exercises & Related articles

Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir

haldi turmeric ginger milk by Arun ShanbhagTurmeric is an ubiquitous indian spice and a common ingredient of pre-mixed curry or masala powders. Turmeric (haldi, Konkani; haridra, Sanskrit) is also an essential component of fish marinade.

While I take for granted the turmeric used in cooking, I distinctly remember my grandma preparing scalding hot, turmeric milk whenever we had a sore throat or cold. And grandma admonished us to sip it hot, letting it course its way down the back of our throats. Haaiiii! She had alchemized this common root, to a piping hot, golden elixir, which not only got us back to school the next day (unfortunately), but also back on the playground (v good). Something magical about that turmeric milk! If she only knew!
Continue reading “Turmeric Milk: Soothing Elixir”

Vitamin D Prevents Fractures

A recent clinical review reported in the NY Times provides great news for older adults. A meta-analysis of 12 randomized clinical trials, together representing over 65,000 subjects suggests that Vitamin D reduces the risk for non-vertebral fractures by 20 % and hip fractures by 18%.
Continue reading “Vitamin D Prevents Fractures”

Your Brain on Google

Googling for information on the internet can improve brain health!

In a recent study, patterns of brain activation were recorded in individuals performing various computer-related tasks. In net savvy individuals, internet searching was associated with increased blood flow in regions of the brain controlling decision making, complex reasoning, and in the visual cortex.

brain google internet searchCompare the intensity of brain activation in the net naive group in blue (top) and the net savvy group in red (below), while performing internet related searches.

Other activities such as computer-game playing also cause brain activation. But as familiarity with the games increases, the novelty decreases with a concomitant decrease in brain activity. Internet search however, remains novel and mentally stimulating.

While not proven, the generally held view is that “engaging in mentally stimulating activities will maintain cognitive abilities and prevent age-related cognitive decline.”


Update:
In the comments, Kahliyalogue asked what we did do before the internet came along? And what about reading?

Simply reading did activate many of the same regions of the brain as involved in cognitive development; BUT at a lower level. Rather than simply reading, the novelty aspect is more important. Something to keep the brain engaged and constantly imagining. Perhaps reading a thriller, where you are eagerly awaiting the outcome; or a romance novel with its own build up of excitement are more important.

Many social aspects can be equally, or even more stimulating than just googling. Going to a farmer’s market and bargaining, playing with grandkids, meeting and reliving good times with friends, visiting relatives, or chatting with random folks can enhance cognitive development.

All these activities additionally help us, and particularly the elderly, develop a social network that can be useful in real-life emergencies: A relative could help pick you up if you fell down; a friend could take you to the doctor!

This later point brings up another query by Cheeni: What is the opportunity cost? As in, what is it we are NOT doing because we are busy with the internet and googling?

Again, Kahliyalogue provides the answer:
“I am truly grateful to the possibilities the internet has provided in seeking information and connecting with people all over the globe, which is magnificent. But … it is taking it’s toll on our personal lives and on the society as a whole. It can never replace the emotional fulfillment of authentic “live” interconnections between human beings involving all of our senses, essential for us to grow in more ways than one.”

Beautifully said!



Original Research Article:
Small and others, “Your brain on google: Patterns of cerebral activation during internet searching” Am J Geriatric Psychiatry (2009); (PDF).

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