Last updated on July 12th, 2018
Bunions occur as bony bumps at the base of your big toe. Bunions can become painful, and if let to develop, may cause deformities and impede your movement. The only permanent way to get rid of bunions is through surgery since they are structural deformities.
However, surgery is risky and expensive, and most people search for ways to take care of bunions without having to undergo a surgery. There are many ways to achieve this, some of which are targeted at alleviating symptoms while others inhibit progression of bunions to worse stages.
Here is how you can get rid of bunions without surgery.
How to Get Rid of Bunions without Surgery
It is possible to treat bunions without surgery, which should come as a last resort. Here are some of the remedies you can use to treat bunions:
Wear Properly Fitting Shoes
Ill-fitting shoes are a major cause of bunions in many people who are genetically predisposed. Toes are naturally meant to be free and spread out unlike other parts of your foot. Constricting them in sharp shoes and pointed heels causes your joint at the big toe to bulge outwards, causing bunions.
Wear properly-fitting shoes to retrain your joints and muscles so they can move more naturally and neutrally. Buy shoes that support the type of arch you have. Furthermore, the shoes should fit when you buy them, without the need to break into them.
Good shoes for bunions should also have a wide front so that your toes have enough free space to move.
Use Shoe Inserts for Pain Relief
Shoe inserts are a great way of providing added comfort and support to your feet. Add shoe inserts to hold your feet in a neutral position, ensuring your movements are natural and therefore the bunions do not get worse.
The inserts can also provide support for your bunions so they do not press against hard surfaces, which can cause increased pain and deformity.
Stretch and Exercise Your Toes
There are many exercises and stretches that you can perform on your toes to relieve bunions. Some of the exercises include the golf ball roll, toe stretches, heel raises, flex and contract amongst many others. Ensure that you regularly and consistently carry out the exercises of your choice to stretch your toes.
Exercises stop further development of bunions, increase blood circulation to your muscles and tendons, improve your flexibility and mobility at the joint and also strengthen muscles in your feet. Exercises can also help realign your joints and retrain them to move naturally together with the muscles. However, they cannot permanently fix the problem.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Bunions get worse for people who are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight keeps excess pressure off your bunions and feet in general, bringing a lot of relief. Since the bunions form at the joint of your big toe near the ball, your weight is distributed to the bunions instead of the ball of your feet.
This causes a lot of pain, and your joints become stiff and cramped. A healthy diet and exercising regularly as part of your lifestyle can take excess weight off your bunions to avoid their further development.
Wear Bunion Splints at Night
Bunion splints are devices that correct bunions by aligning the toe in a natural position. They are worn while sleeping and come in different designs and styles. Some splints are designed to pull your big toe while others push it to alignment. You should ensure that the splint you purchase is comfortable since you’ll be using it for long periods.
Apply a Cold Compress
A cold compress works wonders in relieving bunions. Put several ice cubes on a thin towel, cloth or plastic bag and place the wrapped ice on your bunions. Hold the ice in that position for about 10 minutes then remove.
Wait for 5 minutes and reapply the ice on your feet bunions. If you still do not get relief, apply the cold compress for the third time. The cold temperatures get rid of pain and inflammation by numbing the nerve endings on your feet.
Take Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicine
Sometimes, the pain can become unbearable even after trying many other methods that do not involve medicine described here. If that is the case then you can use anti-inflammatory medicine that is non-steroidal. Non-steroidal medicine is preferred because steroidal medicine is addictive.
You can use medicine such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Such medication only offers you temporary relief, meaning if a permanent solution is not found you could become dependent on them.
Change Activities that Lead to Bunions
Some activities are likely to put lots of pressure on your feet, enhancing symptoms of bunions. Being on your feet for long is one of the activities that are highly associated with bunions; however, it is not a cause of bunions on its own. Avoid these activities to keep undue pressure from your feet and thus preventing bunions from developing.
Warm Oil Massage
Use warm oil to massage and relieve bunions on your feet. The massage reduces inflammation and relaxes your muscles, reducing pressure between your toes. Keep your skin soft to reduce the formation of corns and calluses. Place some castor oil or olive oil in your microwave to warm for your bunion massage.
You can also use coconut oil. Apply the warm oil on the bunion and use your fingers to do a deep tissue massage on the area. Massage the bunion and your entire foot for about ten minutes and repeat on the other foot.
Bunion Pads to Protect Your Bunions
Bunions get worse when they are exposed to friction. Avoid lots of friction between the bunions and your shoes by using pads to cover them. Increased friction on your bunion causes lots of pain, blisters, inflammation and redness or soreness.
Bunion pads are available in different forms, but the most recommended are the gel bunion pads. They are more durable, comfortable and reusable.
Use Toe Separators to Stretch and Align the Foot
A toe separator is a pad placed in between the big toe and the second toe. It helps to push your big toe to alignment in a natural position. It also relieves pressure in between the toes to give you relief from bunions.
Epsom Salt Soak
Soaking your feet in Epsom salt can help relieve and treat bunions. Put warm water in a basin or bathtub until the water can cover your elbows. If you are using a bathtub, add two cups of Epsom salt in the water and stir. If you are using a basin or foot bath, add one cup of Epsom salt in the water and stir.
Soak your feet in the solution for about 15 to 20 minutes. After, you can give your feet a massage for proper relief. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate. The magnesium is a good anti-inflammatory agent.
When Is Bunion Surgery Needed?
Surgery might become an option for some patients suffering from bunions. It becomes inevitable when there is a constant recurring pain. If the pain doesn’t go away regardless of what you try, then you might need surgery. Surgery is also needed when the bunion is really limiting your movement.
If the bunion is becoming worse and causing more deformities, then it should be removed through surgery. Also, if the bunion has developed to a point where it becomes extremely hard to find shoes you can wear, then you should consider surgery so you can live a normal life.
The consideration for surgery changes from one patient to another, and sometimes, it is just a matter of personal preference, depending on the needs of a patient.
It is possible to live with bunions, but proper care is needed to ensure that they do not develop to become worse and impede your movement. Surgery might be the permanent solution for those who cannot get relief from all the nonsurgical methods stated here.
Harvard Health, What to do about bunions