Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Nonergonomic! Footbinding Circa 2003

Nonergonomic! Footbinding Circa 2003
[人因工程 ]

Radiographic Evaluation of Hallux Valgus


Hallux valgus is a common foot disorder of several etiologies, which can lead to significant foot pain and deformity. Little has been published in the radiographic literature about the pre- and postoperative radiographic findings of this very common and very treatable cause of foot pain.


The term hallux valgus denotes deviation of the great toe toward the fibular border of the foot. Hallux valgus is not synonymous with bunion, which is derived from the same root as "bun" or "bunch", and means an area of swelling. In connection with the foot, bunion usually refers to the prominent medial portion of the first metatarsal head and especially to the bursa or a bursa plus osteophyte over it, when this exists. A bursa and/or osteophyte may or may not accompany hallux valgus.


The etiology of hallux valgus is somewhat controversial. Some cases are congenital, perhaps secondary to a sloping surface of the first tarsometatarsal joint. When this joint is hypermobile, with or without the normal angle, it is often referred to as an "atavistic" tarsometatarsal joint. Other cases are almost certainly due to environmental factors, such as poorly fitting footwear. The fashionable shoes worn by many women are more constraining than the shoes worn by men and are felt by many authors to be the etiologic factor in most cases of hallux valgus. This would help to explain the 10:1 ratio of females to males seen with this disorder. (emphasis added)

Editor's Comments:

The ancient Chinese practice of footbinding was responsible for untold suffering endured by women in Chinese society. Thankfully that chapter in history is over.

Or is it?

What is the modern practice of forcing womens' feet into pointy-toed shoes with 3" heels, except a "kinder, gentler" form of footbinding? Long term wearing of pointy-toed high-heeled shoes permanently deforms womens' feet, even crippling their wearers, just as surely as footbinding once did. Any difference is merely one of degrees, not intended visual effect.

We moderns are not nearly as enlightened or progressive as we like to imagine. Knowledgeable historians are well aware of this embarrassing reality. Footbinding was merely a more extreme version of the same foot fetishism that dictates womens' shoe designs in 2003. Now, as then, many women acquiesce. Knowing they will be devalued in sexual attractiveness if they fail to "toe the line," many modern women chose excruxiating physical deformity rather than be caught dead with "sensible shoes" on their feet.

Women who can't bring themselves to give up high heels may want to opt for open-toed sandals instead of pointy-toed pumps. (See Illustration: Designer Sandals) The worst harm to womens' feet is apparently inflicted by the enclosed toe portion of high-heeled shoes. (See Illustration: Designer Pumps) Sandals at least allow their toes to stretch out somewhat, making the best of an ergonomically unhealthy circumstance.

-- Bevin Chu

Explanation: Radiographic Evaluation of Hallux Valgus
Illustration(s): Designer Shoes. 25 year old Female Normal Feet No Shoes. Same Patient in Shoes with 3 inch Heels. No High Heels! Designer Sandals. Designer Pumps
Author(s): Michael L. Richardson, M.D., Sigvard T. Hansen, M.D., Ray F. Kilcoyne, M.D.
Affiliation: Departments of Radiology and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Washington
Source: http://www.rad.washington.edu/anatomy/halluxvalgus.html
Publication Date: October 11, 2001
Original Language: English
Editor: Bevin Chu, Registered Architect

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