Act One: Meet Becky and Stacy
Once upon a time, two girls—Becky and Stacy—were born on the same day in a small town where everyone knew everyone else and the weather was pleasant all year long, even during polar vortexes.
After a couple of days in the hospital, the parents brought their infants home and the girls started to go through the normal stages of child development, without any serious health issues.
Now, in small towns like theirs, neighbors often know things about each other. One of the less scandalous bits of local gossip running around town was the fact that both Becky and Stacy’s parents had bunions.
Of course, even if neighbors didn’t occasionally talk about that, it would have been hard to miss the characteristic bumps and wayward big toes when the parents wore sandals, open-toed shoes, and walked barefoot on the local beach.
And if you know anything about bunions, you’ll understand that it’s no major plot twist to reveal that the girls were both starting to show early signs of the condition—the big toe angles inward (towards the other toes), a bump starts to develop at the great toe joint —as they entered the preteen years.
The reason Becky and Stacy started to develop bunions is because this condition is strongly linked to genetics.
In fact, this problem’s genetic component is so great that your friendly neighborhood go-to foot doc almost feels like a psychic sometimes. When younger patients are accompanied by parents—or, even better, grandparents—a quick look at the more senior family member’s feet is often a glimpse into the future for the child.
If you or your husband have a bunion, the odds are high that your child will as well—and those odds are even higher if any of your respective parents have a bunion!
Act Two: Divergent Paths for Our Protagonists
Going back to our tale, eventually both of Stacy’s parents had their bunions corrected. They happened to learn about the genetic nature of this condition after they had their own bunions treated. They were surprised to find out that the bunion deformity was not what was really passed down to their daughter but it was the way the foot works (the mechanics) that was their hereditary gift.
Stacy’s parents had flat feet their entire life and now realized that this was the problem that creates the bunion later in life.
Since her parents knew Stacy had increased odds of having bunion trouble, they checked out her feet and observed the early stages of flat feet. When they watched Stacy walk away from them they saw that the Achilles tendon was bowed to the outside and when she walked toward them her arch esrolled in too much.
As responsible parents, they called and made an appointment for their daughter to see the nearby charming and handsome podiatrist, Dr. Leibovitz.
Upon walking through the front door, Stacy’s mom and dad were greeted with a big smile from the town’s favorite go-to foot doc.
“It’s really smart that you brought Stacy in at such an early age,” Dr. Leibovitz said. “There are things we can do to slow down the progression or even prevent this from becoming a serious problem later in your daughter’s life. In fact, this would eventually reach a point wherein it would cause tremendous pain and keep Stacy from participating in her favorite activities.”
The wise podiatrist continued to explain that bunions are progressive in nature—left unaddressed they continue to worsen over time. After enough time has lapsed, the only course of action is to use surgery to restore the wayward toe back to its proper position.
Fortunately, though, Stacy’s parents didn’t wait until it became a major problem. Instead, they acted soon enough and Dr. Leibovitz had options beyond surgical correction.
“When someone has an issue like this, we generally have two options for addressing the problem,” said the dashing podiatrist. “We can control the way the foot works with internal or external treatments.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked Stacy’s dad.
“Basically, we can correct flat foot and bunion internally, which is through surgery—like we did for yours,” said Dr. Leibovitz. In a child’s foot, the bones are growing and we can use this to our advantage. If the foot is held in a corrected position with an orthotic long enough, the bones can change and develop to a better position, but there’s a catch.”
“A catch?” asked Stacy’s mom.
“Well, the rolling in of the foot and bunion have to be caught at an early stage. Obviously, this wasn’t the case for you and your husband, but the good news is that it’s absolutely the case for Stacy. As such, I recommend starting her with orthotic therapy as part of her treatment plan.”
“Okay, what’s orthotic therapy?” asked Stacy’s mom.
“These are a low profile customized brace—not the over the counter kind you’d get at the Not Good Foot Store—that work with your daughter’s unique foot structure and gait pattern. This is where the problem starts.
Stacy’s parents thought this sounded like a great idea, and agreed to go with Dr. Leibovitz’s treatment plan.
On the other side of town, Becky’s parents didn’t reach out and request an appointment for their daughter—which is something that’s super easy to do! Sending a carrier pigeon or taking just a moment to fill out an online form is all it takes.
(Fine, they didn’t have online contact back in Dickens’ day. But we do have them now and they are seriously convenient for you. There are no forms to fill out because we will call for your information.)