Neo G in The Northern Echo - Banish Those Bunions

They're painful and unsightly, but rather than going under the knife, it might be possible to correct bunions by wearing a splint

Despite the fact that a huge proportion of the population are sufferers - and that Louboutin-wearing celebrities like Victoria Beckham are affected by them - awareness of bunions and how to relieve the pain they create is remarkably low.

Up to 15 million people suffer from bunions, painful bony swellings at the base of the big toe, with the majority of sufferers being, not surprisingly female and over 45. Ugly, swollen bunions - also known by their Latin name, hallux valgus - cause a red, bony bump at the base of the big toe which becomes painfully inflamed when shoes rub against it, a problem made worse by high heels which throw the body weight forward.

Receptionist Louise Roeson, from North Yorkshire, discovered she had a bunion about a year ago. The 42 year-old realised that the swellings were bunions after discussing the pain with her friends. "It was only after talking to friends who had their bunions diagnosed that I realised the reason for my aching and odd-shaped left foot was because I, too, had a bunion," she says.

Being just over 5ft, I have always worn high heeled shoes and never realised that by wearing them and shoes with a pointed toe I was not only creating the problem, but also making it much worse. As my bunion was only in the early stages and not yet affecting my life very much, one of my friends suggested that I try a toe splint which she had found very effective."

Neo G created the Bunion Night Splint following consultations with sufferers looking to relieve the pain. The splint completely immobilises the joint for uninterrupted healing of bunion protrusions. It is adjustable for fit and comfort and there is a version for both right and left feet.

"I have now been wearing the splint through the night for the past four months and have noticed a significant difference," says Louise. "Hopefully I will be able to avoid surgery. I have a busy life, being a mum of two, and I also enjoy walking and skiing, so the downtime associated with bunion surgery would be very difficult for me to contemplate unless it was deemed to be very necessary from a medical perspective."

While high-heeled and pointy toe shoes cause the big toe to become angled inwards, eventually forming a bunion, they are also hereditary so some sufferers are predisposed to the condition.