What are the best ways to treat bunions without surgery?
If you suffer with bunions, you may have considered having surgery on your feet. Whilst bunion removal surgery is the only sure way to get rid of a bunion, there are plenty of methods for treating bunions without surgery. It is estimated that 23% of all adults aged 18-65 have bunions with 35.7% of all over-65s suffering. And of course, not all of these people are treating their bunions with surgery! If you are looking for bunion relief without going under the knife, these 10 top tips are sure to help.
How Do Bunions Develop?
A bunion is a bony lump which forms at the base of the big toe. It occurs when the big toe moves inwards towards the second toe, as the first metatarsal shifts outwards towards the opposite foot.
The main causes of bunions are genetics, biomechanics, pregnancy, obesity and poorly-fitting footwear. Follow this link to read more about how bunions form.
If you're one of the millions of women looking for bunion relief, then read on to learn what the best ways are to treat bunions without surgery.
How To Treat Bunions Without Surgery
Our 10 top tips on treating bunions without surgery:
Maintain a healthy weight
Soak your feet in a foot bath
Ice your feet
Massage and exercise your feet
Put your feet up!
Try bunion pads
Try bunion splints
Take a paracetamol
Visit a doctor
Wear Bunion-friendly shoes
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
If you want to treat your bunions without surgery, it is important to keep your body in good shape. If you are overweight, you should try to lose weight.
Our feet are under a lot of pressure to support the rest of our body and simple activities such as walking and standing can cause great strain to our feet if they are carrying more weight than they need to.
If your toe joints are under greater pressure, they are more likely to become inflamed and sore, and this can worsen a bunion. Therefore a great first step to treating bunions without surgery is to maintain a healthy weight.
2. Soak Your Feet in a Foot Bath
Treat your feet to a foot bath a few times a week. The best way to treat bunions without surgery is to maintain a healthy footcare routine. The better care you take of your feet, the less likely you are to suffer with foot problems.
A simple 15-minute foot bath will relax your feet. Use warm water and Epsom Salt if you experience swelling or Pink Himalayan Sea Salt to relax and soothe your bunions. Some of our favourite salts are:
Westlab: Reviving Epsom Salt
Westlab: Cleaning Himalayan Salt
3. Ice Your Feet
If you need bunion relief after a long day of walking or standing, icing your feet can reduce swelling and ease the pain of bunions. Put an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the designated area and ice for 15-20 mins for optimum affect.
Icing your feet and taking foot baths will not heal your bunions without surgery. However, they will certainly provide bunion relief if your feet are hurting you after a long day of exercising your feet.
4. Massage and Exercise Your Feet
One of the simplest ways to treat your bunions without surgery is to, in fact, exercise your feet. You should dedicate a few minutes to your feet every day. After long periods of standing or walking, there are very simple exercises you can do to relieve the pain associated with bunions.
A simple massage or foot exercise can provide some much-needed bunion relief and will help strengthen the muscle which controls your big toe.
One of the best exercises for bunion relief is the toe stretch. All you need to do is point your toes straight ahead for 5-10 seconds and then curl them for 5-10 seconds. Repeat this stretch 10 times.
You can also use a towel to help with this stretch. Lay out a small towel on the floor and curl your toes around it. Then pull the towel towards you. You can repeat this stretch 10 times too.
Another easy exercise to stretch your big toe involves using one hand to gently pull the big toe over into the proper alignment. Hold the big toe in this position for 10 seconds and then gently release. Repeat this exercise 3 times.
It is important to wiggle your toes throughout the day. Your feet are squeezed into shoes for an average of ten hours a day. Take your shoes off for couple of minutes and let them move to improve the blood circulation to your feet. (Of course, it's always better to wear bunion-friendly shoes which do not squeeze your feet!)
These foot exercises provide a simple way to treat the pain of bunions without surgery. They will not get rid of this painful joint but they will provide some bunion relief.
5. Put Your Feet Up!
Another simple change you can make to help treat your bunions without surgery is to change the position in which you rest your feet. After sitting down in the same position for a long period of time, it is recommended to prop your feet at a 45 degree angle for 2-5 minutes at the end of a long day to increase blood circulation and reduce pain or swelling. Our top tips:
Lay down and make yourself comfortable on the floor, bed or sofa.
Elevate your legs by using a stack of pillows.
Make sure you keep your feet above your head and heart.
Ensure your safety and be careful that your position will not cause a back or neck injury.
You should also remember to take short breaks to rest your feet during the day. Walking or standing all day puts pressure on your toe joints, so it's important to put your feet up and rest them throughout the day.
6. Try Bunion Pads
There are a number of bunion products out there which can help you to treat your bunions without surgery. Not all bunion products will help all feet, but it may be worth trying out bunion pads. These generally come in the form of soft gel-filled pads which you can put inside your shoe to stop the bunion from rubbing against the inside of your shoe.
You may also want to try shoe inserts which are designed to hold your foot in the correct position. You can buy these over the counter at your local pharmacy or you can have your orthotic insoles custom-made to accommodate your foot shape.
The purpose of these pads and inserts is to hold your foot in the correct position and prevent the bunion from rubbing and causing you pain. If your bunions do not hurt you when you are not wearing shoes, then this may be a good alternative treatment to bunion surgery.
7. Try Bunion Splints
Bunion Splints are another type of very popular bunion product. Unfortunately they will not heal your bunions without surgery, but they can provide bunion relief.
Bunion Splints and other bunion-correcting products aim to realign the shape of your foot by stretching or straightening the big toe to its intended position and away from the other toes.
We would recommend opting for bunion splints which are intended to be worn at home or while you sleep. You shouldn't expect to see overnight success - it may take a week until you see any improvements.
Bunion Splints will not heal your bunions (you can read more about bunion splints and our bunion splint review here) but they may provide some bunion relief and help treat your bunions without undergoing surgery.
8. Take a Paracetamol
If your bunions are causing you pain, authorities such as the NHS advise on taking paracetamol or ibuprofen. This type of anti-inflammatory drug is not the solution to healing bunions without surgery, but they will provide some pain relief.
9. Visit a Doctor or Podiatrist
While there are many ways to treat your bunions yourself without surgery, you may want to visit a doctor or a podiatrist to discuss the other options available to you. There are non-surgical therapies which a professional may be able to provide, for example electrical stimulation which can decrease inflammation around the bunion.
Doctors may be able to take an X-ray for you so that you can see what is happening on your feet. An X-ray will also help you monitor whether your bunion is growing and needs surgery or not.
To find your nearest podiatrist, click here.
10. Wear Bunion-Friendly Shoes
This is our favourite piece of advice for treating bunions without surgery. If you have bunions, you can still wear pretty, fashionable shoes. They just need to be bunion-friendly!
You need to look for shoes which have a wide toe-box (the part at the front of the shoe) and cushioning to protect those difficult joints.
Although it might seem obvious to some, wide-fit shoes are often mistaken for shoes for bunions. The truth is that, while many wide-fit shoes have enough room to accommodate bunions, if you don’t have wide feet the back of the shoe will not hold your heels in place. It is also common to have a bunion on only one foot - therefore, wide fit shoes on a slim-to-normal width foot - without a bunion – will not be supportive and can lead to foot health issues in the future.
Sole Bliss took this into consideration when designing our collection of bunion shoes. We offer wide-fit shoes for bunions and regular-fit shoes for bunions. If you have a bunion on one foot, there is a cleverly hidden stretch panel inside the shoe that will accommodate and cushion your bunion. The other shoe won’t use the stretch panel and will function as an ordinary shoe, and that foot will simply enjoy the comfortable cushioning of the shoe. Clever right?
You should also avoid shoes without arch support. It's time to get rid of your flip-flops, which offer no support for problematic feet.
There are many ways to treat your bunions without surgery. Bunion surgery (known as the "Bunionectomy") is a very serious procedure and you should explore all the options available to you before you decide to undergo surgery. The best way to manage your bunions without surgery comes down to the type of footwear you wear and whether they support and accommodate your feet and bunions. Look for shoes designed for bunions and take your time selecting the most comfortable fit for you. You can manage pain and swelling with several natural techniques that we have suggested above.
To discover our full collection of bunion-friendly shoes, click here.