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How to Correct Your Bunions Without Surgery

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Updated February 17, 2023.

Feet and toes being held in place by orthopedic splint apparatus

A bunion is a bony lump at the base of the big toe. It is a foot abnormality that causes the big toe to bend towards the second toe and away from its normal anatomical position. It can also occur on the small toe, which is known as a tailor's bunion.

Some of the most common causes of bunions are hypermobile joints, arthritis, genetics, structural foot problems, age, and narrow shoes. Though initially painless, bunions can progressively worsen without treatment, leading to conditions like hammertoe, calluses, metatarsalgia, bursitis, and more.

In this article, we will cover effective natural ways to manage symptoms of bunions without surgery and how to prevent their progression.

Is It Possible to Correct a Bunion Without Surgery?

There are many conservative approaches to reduce pain and swelling and prevent bunions from worsening. The choice of technique is determined by the symptom you want to address. However, it's not possible to totally correct a bunion without surgery as it is caused by misalignment of the foot.

Surgery should be considered as a last resort when these methods do not relieve your symptoms or if you want to remove the bunion completely.

Natural Ways to Ease Bunion Pain

Pain is the primary symptom that makes bunions a cause of concern. To relieve pain due to bunions, the following are natural methods that can be employed:

  • Wear proper shoes A shoe with a narrow toe box high heels can predispose you to bunions and should be avoided. Instead, go for shoes with enough toe space and thinner heels.
  • Pad up your foot Bunion pads come in the form of soft gel-filled pads that can be placed inside your shoe to relieve pressure from your toes. This prevents your foot from rubbing against the inside of your shoe and causing pain.
  • Exercise your feet There are very simple exercises for bunions that you can do to relieve the pain associated with the condition and strengthen the muscles controlling the big toe. Examples of exercises that can be performed include a toe curl, a toe stretch, and general ROM exercises for the toes.
  • Use orthotics Orthotics distribute weight evenly across the foot. Subsequently, there is less pressure in the big toe, increasing comfort, arch support, and foot alignment. They can also help to correct or improve any abnormal walking patterns that may be responsible for the pain.

» Considering getting orthotics? Peruse a range of custom orthotics

Natural Ways to Reduce Bunion Swelling

Swelling is another symptom of bunions that can be addressed with natural means. What’s interesting is that some of the methods mentioned earlier for relieving pain also reduce swelling. Other methods include:

  • Ice your feet Icing your feet can help reduce any pain and swelling that you may have because of bunions. Using a towel, apply an ice pack to the area and ice it for 15-20 mins for maximum effect.
  • Elevate your feet A simple way to shrink bunions is to elevate the feet. Consider changing the resting position of your feet, such as by propping your feet up using pillows for 2-5 minutes at a time to increase blood circulation and reduce swelling.
  • Maintain a healthy foot care routine A foot care routine such as soaking your feet in a foot bath with either Epsom or Pink Himalayan Sea salt will both relax and relieve any swelling and pain in the foot.
  • Massage A simple massage of the foot can be very effective in reducing swelling and producing bunion pain relief.
  • Maintain a healthy weight Being overweight places more pressure on the foot during standing and walking. This, in turn, places the toes under more pressure, predisposing the foot to more inflammation and swelling. Maintaining a healthy weight will help you reduce the swelling and also prevent more pain.

Can You Prevent Bunions?

To a large extent, bunions are preventable. Often, they occur due to prolonged pressure on the metatarsal joints of the big toe. Anything that causes pressure on the MTP can lead to bunions. For example, a low arch due to an inherited or acquired foot problem or a shoe with a narrow toe box. Thus, to prevent bunions, avoid anything that places constant pressure on the MTP joint of the big toe.

Bunions are progressive. They can start painless but will worsen if not treated, becoming excruciatingly painful or leading to complications. As such, bunions must be identified early and treated so they do not cause a permanent deformity.

When Should You Get Bunion Surgery?

Truly, not all bunions will require surgery. If conservative methods relieve the symptoms of a bunion, there may be no need for surgery. However, if after conservative treatment for some weeks there is no pain relief, you should consider opting for a surgical procedure.