Sunday, 27 January 2013

Toe spacers and pedicures

I noticed yesterday that the pink toe spacers that my surgeon made from putty for me, when he changed my casts in week 2, were feeling a little loose.

I especially felt that when I was standing my toes were spacing out wider than the spacer, leaving it floating between them.

My guess is that now I am putting weight on my feet, my toes are moving further apart due to that pressure, which is obviously a good thing, but it's making the gap between my toes bigger than the spacers.

So I wondered how useful they were really being?

My desire is to have toes that are as straight as possible, and while I don't know anything about the mechanics of the recovery, I assume that although the bones themselves are surely set in place now, the tendons and muscles are still learning their new positions and movements, so this might be a window of opportunity to continue to improve the positioning.

I could be completely wrong, in which case any medical people reading, please let me know!

Anyway, I wanted to replace the pink spacers with wider ones to help encourage my toes into the best possible position.

I had a Google to see if I could get some of the putty, as making my own custom spacers felt like the best option, but I couldn't find a source and I wasn't entirely sure what I was looking for.

So then I searched for "toe spacers" but soon found that some places call them "toe separators" which to me sounds more like those things you use when you paint your toenails, like these (note the slight bunion bump on the side of the foot and the tight spacing of the big and second toes! Even models have bunions!):

What I wanted was these:

Credit: Amazon

They come in different sizes, although they don't specify how wide they are so it's not easy to compare. Those ones are pretty good value, but I wanted some new ones asap, so I sent the hubby to Boots and he got me these:

Sorry, I took the spacers out before I took the picture. You can see them on the Boots website here.

They are more expensive than the ones on Amazon, but then Amazon doesn't pay for a retail unit, or even the right amount of tax, plus I wanted them today rather than having to wait. And hey, we get Advantage card points too!

So, hubby got them after church today, and I wasted no time in testing them out.

I think they are wider than the pink ones. They definitely feel it. I could handle them being wider, but I think I can probably wrap some lambswool or cotton wool around them to add a bit of width and customise them to suit me.

The observant among you will notice I did my pedicure last night - bubblegum pink base with a gold and dark pink dotted flower on each big toenail. I love nail art but am still a complete amateur so all I can manage are dots or tips.

Anyway, one thing I have noticed today with all this in-out-in-out-shake-it-all-about of spacers is that when I don't have them in, my big toes are noticeably closer to my second toe than when the spacers are there.

I'm not entirely happy about this, and am hoping I will be able to ask my surgeon about it when he comes back to me on my other questions.

Although I do remember reading an American surgeon's site where he said he never does women's toes totally straight as they then find it hard to wear fashionable shoes afterwards, because most shoes (men's or ladies' in my opinion) have an angled toe box.

So maybe that's applicable to me?

Anyway, I took some pictures to show the difference:

The top two pictures I did without moving my feet on the pouffe, so you can use how much paattern is visible as a guide to how much the toes have moved. I'm afraid the last one was a standalone picture but you can still see that they are definitely not as straight as when the spacers are there.

You can click on the pictures to see larger versions, and underneath you should get a tickertape of all the pictures in the post, so you can click on them to run through the sequence, and if you flick between the first two you should see the toe move!

In case you just want the pictures bigger, then here they are again, larger.

Right. In the interests of being thorough, I also took some while standing with my weight through my forefoot. I thought that might make a difference. Again, I kept my feet in the same position so you can use the pattern as a guide.

Standing didn't seem to make a difference. There is definitely movement once the spacers are taken out.

I've got to admit, I'm a bit disappointed. I thought the idea was to make my toes straight, and I'm concerned about the bunions coming back if my toes bend in a bit. It's definitely something I want to ask Mr Nugent about.

In case all this staring at my feet has made you forget what normal feet are supposed to look like, here is the Little Lady's adorable foot.

As you can see, her big toes almost tilt the opposite way to mine - her feet haven't yet been put under undue pressure by shoes (I always get her brand new shoes that have been fitted properly by a trained fitter).

I intend to write about natural foot shape another time, but as this post is all about spacers, I'll leave you with pictures of a couple of products that some people swear will help keep your toes in proper alignment.

I haven't any experience of them myself, nor do I know anyone who uses them, but I plan to investigate further once I'm fully recovered.

We have the toe stretchers (aka Yoga Toes TM):

Credit: Amazon

And these are the separator socks:

Credit: Amazon

And finally, the bunion splint:

Credit: Amazon

Ok, so those look a little like an instrument of torture, but I have read that some people think they are brilliant. Obviously, nothing can correct an existing bunion except surgery, but I think this splint and the other separator devices could probably help negate the pressures of shoes, if worn regularly and over a period of time.

Worth thinking about, anyway.

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