Non-surgical Bunion Pain Relief Options

Before embarking on the path of undergoing a bunionectomy, you should thoroughly investigate non-surgical bunion pain relief options to see if you can avoid bunion removal surgery. Depending on your personal situation, the condition of your foot bunion and whether or not the cost of a bunionectomy is within your financial means, it is quite likely that home treatment options might actually be more advantageous for you. Not to mention the fact that you will not have to endure the pain of surgery.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few tactics and options to consider.

Constructing a Conservative Bunion Pain Relief & Treatment Plan

There are many things you can do to help alleviate bunion pain and we are going to take a look at them below.

Lose Weight and Get in Better Shape

Before you roll your eyes or hit the back space button, I realize that this is a long-term solution to the problem. Obviously, this will not give you any sort of immediate relief. However, it is a simple fact that the big toe and toe joint carry the burden of your weight. Each time you take a step your body weight places downward pressure against the ground and that force cause your toes and joints to move and shift (often to your physical detriment).

If you are overweight, you are exacerbating your bunion pain.

Lifestyle Changes

If you have a bunion, you are going to have to come to terms with the fact that you are simply going to have to make some concessions and change your lifestyle to some degree. That doesn’t necessarily mean these lifestyle changes are permanent, though they may very well be. For some, they may merely be temporary as you work to alleviate the foot pain.

  • No more marathons
  • No more high heels or tight fitting shoes

Hopefully, whether your undergo bunion surgery or pursue non-surgical bunion removal methods you can eventually go back to wearing heels and engaging in strenuous physical activity that involves your feet.

Change or Modify Your Footwear

Your individual situation is unique to you and therefore the following suggestions may or may not work. Depending on the type of footwear you own, you could get it spot stretched so that it doesn’t place so much pressure on the area of your foot where the bunion is located.

Personally, I never pursued this option for two reason. The shoes that I owned were not suitable for stretching or they were too expensive and I did not want to permanently ruin them in the even that my bunion was removed/fixed.

However, women may be more likely to get some benefit from this tactic and it may make sense for them since they usually have a significantly larger collection of shoes. I basically own a couple of black and brown pairs and a couple of tennis shoes. Women wanting to maintain more variety in their fashion may select a handful to get stretched out.

The best option is probably opting to purchase specially made shoes for bunion sufferers. They are designed to have wide bases in the forefoot area and also have firm and sturdy heel molding to keep your feet from shifting.

Pamper Your Feet

Some individuals report getting a lot of mileage out of warm soaks with Epsom salt. Harvard Medical suggests as much, along with ice packs, if your bunion is acting up and giving you pain. Ask your spouse for some gentle massaging.

In general, you simply need to ease off the gas pedal of life so to speak and take it a little slower. Take your shoes off whenever possible. If your family wears shoes in the house, make a new rule that shoes aren’t allowed. This will train you to take your shoes off whenever you are inside and that will be good for your feet.

And while you are home, walk around with toe spacers or spreaders on your feet to help take pressure off the bunion and toe joint.

Bunion Splints and Bunion Socks

As we have discussed previously, your prototypical bunion occurs when the big toe starts to point inward toward the second toe. The sharper that angle, the bigger the bump (generally).

Bunion splints and bunion socks are designed to essentially reverse that inward pointing and apply pressure to the toe so that it points more towards the normal position. When you were a kid you may recall doing experiments with plants and sunlight. The plants would grow towards the sunlight. Think of these splints as creating sunlight from the front of the foot and causing the toe to want to revert back to the normal positioning.

There is an assortment of products on the market with many different splints to choose from. However, that is beyond the scope of this article which is designed to give you a broad overview of bunion pain relief options that do not involve surgery.

Please note that you can also see a podiatrist to get custom made orthotics designed for your individual foot and bunion.

Toe Spacers, Bunion Pads and Cushions

We touched on toe spacers very briefly in this article above. Spacers are similar in concept to the splints in that they are designed to keep toes from crowding each other. There are also a variety of bunion pads, gel inserts and other types of products designed to cushion the bunion so that it isn’t aggravated by the pressure that comes with the constricting contact of your footwear.

Cortisone Shots and Pharmaceuticals

Aside from the tips and products mentioned above, there are cortisone shots and pharmaceutical products that can act as anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. However, these are just temporary solutions that really just mask the pain and do not treat the underlying cause of the bunion. And there are side effects so make sure you thoroughly consult with your doctor.

Again, this is just an introduction to your different options when it comes to bunion pain relief. There are more exhaustive articles on this site where we delve into these in more detail.

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