Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Case Study: The Long-Term Effects of Kinesio Tape on Hallux Valgus - Week...I Don't Know Anymore

There is a reason I have not pursued a career in research, and I think this post is a clear demonstration as to why.  I started conducting my own little research project somewhere around a year ago, ended it in January, and am just now getting around to writing the follow-up.  If you were reading along before and need a refresher course, you can read the first post here, the second post here, and the third post here.

Let's see...so as of the last post I had been taping my toes for 7 wks.  I believe I continued taping for only another one or two weeks, because it was about that time I noticed my big toes feeling sore, especially on the right.  That toe started to look swollen and slightly red, so I decided to stop taping altogether.  I also realized that my big toenails were no longer growing; in fact, the last time I'd trimmed them was three months prior, but all the other toenails were growing on schedule.  

My toe pain finally simmered down, but then in April the right one flared up again.  It got super red and puffy and had every sign of infection.  So I ignored it.  It was originating from the nail bed, which was odd since I had no skin breakdown or lacerations to the area.  After about two weeks of that, the infection finally cleared up, and I started to lose my toenail.  I've never lost a nail before, and my toe had suffered no trauma or ingrown anything.  The nail just simply died and started to grow out.  There was some new nail trying to grow, but it wasn't moving very quickly.  By probably July-ish the dead nail was halfway grown out, and I accidentally snagged it on something and ripped off what was left.  Ouchie.  But that healed up and now - nearly November - I have about 3/4 of a toenail and it seems to still be filling in.  I'm relieved for that, because I thought I'd  never have a normal looking nail again.  Not that I'm vain about the appearance of my feet, but the once a year (or two) I decide to French tip my toenails, it's kind of nice to have something to tip.

My theory on the toenail weirdness is that the pull of the tape over the top of the nail affected its ability to grow out normally, which somehow messed with the nail bed and caused it to stop growing altogether.

As far as the measurements go, I re-measured again this summer, and my valgus angles were back to where they were before I started taping.  Therefore, my conclusion is this:  Kinesio tape will help improve the angle of hallux valgus, but not as a long-term solution.  I have heard from two people that the tape offered relief from pain they were having from hallux valgus, so I believe it is also an appropriate method for managing symptoms and pain related to this condition.  But I would advise caution with constant and repetitive taping over time based on what happened to my toenail.

This brings me to the official end of my case study.  (Whew.  That's a relief!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seasons of Change

Typically the view from the windows at work isn't all that exciting.  But when fall shows up, I will boast of one of the best views in town.  The trees outside these windows turn the most brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange.  With a backdrop of gloomy gray skies and green pines, the colors nearly glow.  This morning, however, gale-force winds showed up and the trees are steadily losing their magnificent color-blankets.  The bare branches poking out from the tops tease about the fast-approaching winter, and I mourn the passing of an all-too-brief fall season.

I watch the leaves fly and am reminded at how quickly - and regularly - life changes.  And this reminder parallels words from my Bible study:  The life of a Christian is never about sameness.  It's always about change.*  Change will happen, and it's necessary.  Without it my relationship with the One who loves me will not deepen.

Oh, how I balk at change.  I do not like for my consistency and order to be jumbled and shifted.  I do not like to face the unknown, and I certainly do not like to lose that which I hold dear because losing hurts.  I fear change because I fear pain.

Recently I traveled back to my second home in South Dakota, and with each familiar sight and street and face I felt the subtle stab of homesickness.  Each time I've gone back I've asked myself, "What have you done?  Look at what you gave up!"  I left dear friends and happy places and a town that feels more like home than anywhere else.  I want that home back.

But I have good things where I am now.  I have a job I love, and that is something I appreciate and grip tightly.  I have friends here who have become very dear, and slowly this new place is becoming home.  More than anything else, I have a new freedom.  I look back and I miss dearly what I used to have.  But when I see path God has led me on this past year and I notice how much He's grown me, I recognize some of the chains that used to hold me captive because of where I used to be.  He brought me away from what I had, and as a result I am no longer held captive by these chains, and the freedom is sweet.

I have meditated on these things lately, and as I watch the autumn-chilled winds wipe the beauty from the trees, I feel a mix of sadness, yet surrender, in knowing that the winds of life will blow again.  Sooner or later the beauty I experience now will be removed to make room for the next season, and through His miracle of life, God will grow me in ways that I cannot imagine.  Maybe it will be painful, or maybe not.  Either way, it will be good.  And while I may look back and miss what I have now, He is faithful to fill to overflowing the blessings of those who are faithful to Him.

*Quoted from Breaking Free by Beth Moore.


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