A conversation with a notable podiatrist, Dr. Robert Chelin

Dr. Chelin is the Past President and CEO of the Federation of International Podiatrists (FIP) as well as its Chairman of Economic Development and Website Committees. Chelin has been providing podiatric services to the residents of Ontario, Canada for over 29 years. Dr. Chelin and other key podiatry leaders recently met in Washington D.C. to celebrate the inauguration of the new president of the American Podiatric Medical Association at their House of Delegates meeting. Dr. Chelin is an authority on the prevention of foot problems. As a prominent and notable podiatrist, we were lucky to have the opportunity to speak with Dr. Chelin about how to eliminate foot pain, increase foot function and improve the foot’s appearance.

bunion examination

bunion examination

The mission at our “Aesthetics in Podiatry” practice is to eliminate foot pain, increase foot function, and improve the foot’s appearance. A physical exam of my patient’s feet begins with a complete foot physical including an evaluation of their foot mechanics and the environmental factors that their feet are exposed to daily. What I mean by this, is to first evaluate whether their foot deformity is primarily a result of their genetics (extremely flexible foot structure), or primarily, from wearing ill-fitting shoes.

In this case, I will use a bunion deformity, also known as Hallux valgus as an example of a patient’s foot condition. A bunion deformity is an enlargement of bone on the side of the 1st metatarsal head which may also involve the deviation of the big toe. Primarily it is caused by genetic factors. In some cases, ill-fitting shoes can be the cause of a bunion, but in most cases, improper foot wear only exacerbates this genetic disposition.

With a bunion deformity, conservative treatments such as wearing prescription foot orthotics and/or the Bunion Aid® bunion splint and switching to proper-fitting shoes can reduce bunion pain and stabilize one’s foot mechanics. If the bunion is painful, an x-ray examination is performed. If the deformity is severe and the degrees of bunion deviation of the big toe is large enough, I will suggest that the patient consider bunion surgery. I will then recommend a procedure or multiple procedures to eliminate the bunion pain, stabilize the deformity, and straighten the big toe for improved foot function and appearance.

Bunion surgery in most cases is successful; but in the end, it is up to my patients to continue with diligent foot care. For example, as part of my post-surgical care package, I include a Post Operative bunion splint that is engineered and manufactured in Germany, the Bunion Aid® Treatment Splint. I recommend that our patients begin wearing it daily after I remove the post-op dressings, usually 4 – 6 weeks after the surgery. This flexible hinged splint will maintain surgical correction while allowing the patient to return to normal activity.

I like to use analogies with my practice when consulting with patients. For example, with orthodontics, once our braces are removed from our teeth, we will continue to wear a retainer for some time to ensure our teeth do not shift back to their native position. It is only natural that with genetic deformities, whether they are deformities of our teeth or feet, our bones, ligaments and tendons want to go back to their native state. That is why it is so important to wear a bunion splint after bunion surgery and perhaps beyond. Post surgical use of the Bunion Aid® Treatment Splint will keep the big toe into the corrected position as well as maintaining the correct metatarsal angle. By doing so, we have a much better chance in preventing the reoccurrence of the bunion deformity.

My Struggle with Bunions

Like millions of women around the world, bunions or “Hallux valgus” run in my family. A team of scientists at Harvard Medical School, Hebrew SeniorLife and the Institute for Aging Research analyzed the foot health data of more than 2,100 individuals to determine whether foot conditions are inherited. They discovered that about 39 percent of women and 38 percent of men had a hallux valgus deformity, also known as a bunion. Among these individuals, about 89 percent of those younger than 60 had inherited their bunions.

In addition, as a fashionable woman, I also have a long standing love affair with high heel stilettos. The UK College of Podiatry warned that prolonged high heel wearing can trigger serious problems including arthritis, stress fractures and trapped nerves. The college’s Mike O’Neill, a consultant podiatrist, said: “There is absolutely no doubt that women who wear high heels are putting themselves at risk of permanent injury in the name of fashion.”

The combination of these two factors made me a prime candidate to suffer from bunions. I first started developing bunions in my early 20s. As a young woman I thought that I was too young to develop bunions, what I thought was only a foot condition for older people! “When younger athletes have a bunion, it’s a very complex problem. And in younger patients, the tendency for a bunion to recur later on is much higher,” Dr. Victor Prisk, orthopedic foot specialist at Allegheny General Hospital explained to the source. “A lot of the procedures don’t just involve shaving the bone down. It actually involves moving the bone and getting the alignment back to normal.” As I got older the foot pain made it harder and harder to enjoy the things I love the most like dancing and hiking. I foolishly neglected to take care of my feet and allowed my foot ailments to get worse and worse. It’s uncommon to hear the word “metatarsophalangeal” during a dinnertime discussion or at a bar with friends, but if you’re suffering from bunions, you have an association with this term that you may not even be aware of.

Finally, I reached the stage of bunion progression where something had to be done. I already knew from my research into bunion surgery that it is a costly and painful procedure that is reserved for only the most severe cases of Hallux valgus.
Much of information I read about bunion surgery and many of the images I found online of it were so disgusting and revolting that I would no longer even consider having the procedure done. If at all possible, I wanted a way to relieve my bunion pain while correcting the underlying bunion problem at home. Without surgery.

bunion surgery bunion surgery

I decided to experiment with various bunion products available online, but found many of these bunion products were inadequate or misrepresented. After much research, I found that many of the “soft gel” bunion products did not work at all. Bunion Splints seemed to offer the best bunion correction, but how to determine which bunion splint was the most effective? I needed to learn more about bunion splints. First I consulted the “Bunion Splint Buyer’s Guide” available on this site.

Finally after much research, I was able to determine that the best and most effective bunion splint is the “Bunion-Aid” Splint. It is the only podiatrist recommended bunion splint that has been scientifically proven to effectively treat bunions and relieve bunion pain. There are Bunion-Aid resources for medical professionals such as numerous clinical studies, medical testimonials, customer reviews and brochures available on the Bunion-Aid distributor’s website.

Bunion Aid Treatment Splint Bunion Aid Medial Mid Foot Brace

Especially after viewing the Bunion-Aid reviews on Amazon.com I decided to give Bunion-Aid a try. After using it regularly for 6 months I am happy to report that Bunion-Aid is the only bunion product I have used that actually worked as promised. It has reduced my bunion and relieves my bunion pain every night. I usually wear it at night, but it works great for wearing around the house. It features a joint hinge that maintains foot mobility while securing the big toe. For now I am so happy that I was able to find an alternative to bunion surgery. However, while Bunion-Aid remains the most effective bunion product on the marketplace, I am always open to new technology and bunion surgery alternatives. Does anyone else have similar bunion struggles to share?