How to treat bunions without surgery

Bunions are often painful and can really impact day-to-day life when it comes to walking around and being on your feet all day.

No only are they entirely inconvenient when it comes to dressing up in heels or hitting the dance floor, but they can make it difficult to just get through the day without feeling that painful throb in your foot.

Bunions usually arise from changes to the bone structure in your foot, often due to the shoes you wear or even just the way you walk, and cause the feet and toes to cease lining up properly.

While they’re most common at the base of the big toe, sometimes they occur at the bottom of the little toe too. These are known as bunionettes or “tailor’s bunion.”

Fast facts on bunions

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  1. Bunions are also referred to as hallux valgus or hallux abducto valgus.
  2. The bony lump develops when a toe pushes against a neighbouring toe. This alignment causes the joint to protrude.
  3. Bunions are more common in women than in men.
  4. Adolescent bunions develop most often in girls ages 10-15.
  5. People can often relieve bunion pain by wearing more comfortable shoes and relieving pressure on the toe.
  6. Causes of bunions and risk factorsA bunion is examined by a doctor.
  7. Bunions are bony bumps that often form at the base of the big toe.

Causes and risk factors for developing bunions include:

  • Uneven weight-bearing in the foot or tendon that makes the toe joint unstable
  • Inherited foot type
  • Feet that do not develop properly before birth
  • Foot injuries
  • Forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Conditions that affect both the nerves and muscles such as polio

Doctors also believe that wearing high-heels or narrow pointed shoes can also cause bunions to develop.

Symptoms of bunions

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  • Pain and soreness
  • Numbness
  • A burning sensation
  • Swelling at the joint of the affected toe
  • Skin thickness at the base of the affected toe
  • Redness
  • Bump on the base of the affected toe
  • The presence of corns or calluses
  • Movement restriction within the affected toe

The symptoms can get worse overtime, especially if they are aggravated by wearing ill-fitting shoes, high-heels, or being on your feet all day.

While they begin as small lumps, they grow larger over time.

Bunion complications

Bunions can lead to a number of other painful conditions developing around them.

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  • Swelling of the fluid-filled pads responsible for cushioning the bones, tendons, and muscles (bursitis)
  • Hammertoe – abnormal bone bending which can lead to pain and pressure
  • Swelling and pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia)
  • Calluses
  • Pain
  • Difficulty walking
  • Decreased toe mobility
  • Arthritis
  • Diagnosis and treatment of bunions

Non-surgical treatments

There are a number of ways to treat bunions that don’t require going under the knife.

Treatments for bunions that do not require surgery include:

  • Appropriately fitting footwear – these can relieve pressure on the toe.
  • Shoe inserts, also known as orthotics – shoe inserts relieve pressure on the toe
  • Padding, taping, or splinting of the toe
  • Avoiding activities that lead to bunion pain such as standing for a long period of time
  • Ice – applying ice to the affected area can help reduce swelling
  • Pain-relieving medications such as ibuprofen to reduce pain and swelling
  • Cortisone injections – these can also relieve swelling, particularly in the fluid-filled pads that cushion the bones

If none of these treatments work, your doctor may recommend surgery to get rid of the bunion, but this is done on a case by case basis.

Do you suffer from bunions? How have you tried to treat them?