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Glossary - B

Babinski reflex - a reflex action of the toes, normal during infancy but abnormal after 12 to 18 months of age, or when locomotion begins; after this, it is indicative of abnormalities in the motor control pathways leading from the cerebral cortex and is widely used as a diagnostic aid in disorders of the central nervous system. It is elicited by a firm stimulus (usually scraping) on the sole of the foot, which results in dorsiflexion of the great toe and fanning of the smaller toes. Normally such a stimulus causes all the toes to bend downward. Called also Babinski's sign.

Bunion - an abnormal prominence on the inner aspect of the first metatarsal head, with bursal formation, and resulting in lateral or valgus displacement of the great toe. Bunions can be caused by congenital malformation of the bony structure of the foot or by joint disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and are aggravated by wearing high-heeled shoes with pointed toes. When the shoes do not fit properly they force the great toe toward the outer side of the foot. The result is continued pressure on the joint where the great toe articulates with the first metatarsal head. Chronic irritation causes a build-up of soft tissue and underlying bone in the area. Symptoms are swelling, redness, and pain. Mild cases can be relieved by changing to properly fitting shoes. If there is severe pain making ambulation difficult or impossible, anti-inflammatory agents may be effective. Surgical correction (bunionectomy) is indicated when all other measures fail.

Bursa - A tissue space (fibrous sac) that is lined with synovial membrane (joint tissue) and contains a small quantity of synovial fluid (joint fluid). Bursas are found in between tendon and bone, skin and bone and muscles. They function to facilitate fluid movement.

Bursitis - Inflammation of a bursa, occasionally accompanied by a calcific deposit.

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