Bunions are no respecter of fame or fortune and a combination of genetics and ill-fitting shoes can cause these painful deformities of the foot, which affect women from every walk of life.
Like the growing band of celebrities, Julie Bowyer, a medical receptionist from Alwoodley, Leeds suffered from prominent and painful bunions. To add to the misery, she also had bunnionettes – a bump that develops on the outside of the foot near the base of the little toe.
“It felt like I was walking on a pebble,” says Julie, 56.
“Both my mum and grandma had bunions and neither of them had surgery to correct it. My grandma could barely walk and my mum could only walk wearing surgical shoes. I didn’t want to end up that way,.”.
Unlike some celebrities, Julie doesn’t wear skyscraper heels, she prefers trainers, which are better suited to her sporty, active lifestyle. She’s a keen runner and over the years has participated in 10k charity fundraisers.
However, after doing those runs she would be in excruciating pain and had to reduce her activity for the last two years.
“After running, the bunions would throb for days. It was like living with a constant toothache that sometimes becomes more severe. I kept putting off having surgery but finally decided I couldn’t carry on in this way; it was stopping me from leading the life I wanted. ”
Julie had surgery under the care of Nick Harris, consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Spire Leeds Hospital.
Surgery involved breaking the bones and re-fixing in a corrected position to realign the big toe and fifth toe. Surgery took around an hour and Julie was able to go home the same day. She plans to have the second food done later this year.
“Around one third of people who wear shoes have some degree of bunion compared to two percent of people who don’t wear shoes,” says Mr Harris.
“It’s unusual for a patient to have both a bunion and bunionette. However, sometimes if patients have a large bunion it leads to crowding of the other toes which can cause pressure on the small toe when wearing shoes.”
“The best thing about it now is there is no pain in that foot whatsoever. I feel that Mr Harris has ‘performed a miracle’,” said Julie who now plans to get in training for the Jane Tomlinson 10k.