How to Relieve Bunion Pain without Surgery

by Garreth Myers


A bunion is an irregular, bony lump that develops beneath the big toe. They occur due to the constant pushing of the big toe against the other toes. This movement causes the joint of the big toe to move in the opposite direction, away from the side of the foot. In course of time, this leads to enlargement of the joint. As a result the other toes do not have sufficient space and this can cause pain and discomfort. Bunions can develop due to many reasons. The most common cause of bunions is wearing tightly fitting shoes. Bunions may also occur due to structural abnormalities which may be inherited at birth. Arthritis may also be a cause of bunions. The joint of the little toe may also be susceptible to bunions. These smaller bunions are referred to as bunionettes.

There are many different symptoms of bunions. The most common signs include swelling beneath the big toe, thickening of the skin in the area and soreness. The area may also appear red and there is likely to be pain. In some cases calluses may also form. Due to these symptoms there may be difficulty in moving the big toe. Some people experience severe pain from bunions and are unable to walk properly in normal shoes. The skin and underlying tissues may also get affected. In order to accommodate the foot into a shoe, most individuals tend to push the big toe inward. This can squeeze and crowd the other toes and in time, they may take on a bent appearance. Bunions do not usually require medical care. However if there is persisting pain or increased swelling, then it is advisable to consult a podiatrist. It is important to seek medical attention even when movement of the toe is hampered and when it becomes difficult to wear shoes.

Bunions are formed when there is uneven pressure on the joints and tendons of the feet. This can cause the joint of the big toe to become unstable. With continued pressure the joint forms into a hard knob which sticks out from the foot. Bunions may develop due to various factors. Individuals who continually wear high heeled shoes or poorly fitting shoes may have a tendency to develop bunions. Genetics may also play a role and some people may inherit a certain foot type. Congenital deformities of the toe and foot which are present at birth could also be a cause of bunions. In some cases, bunions may develop after foot injuries. Bunions may also occur due to certain types of arthritis such as inflammatory or degenerative arthritis. In such cases the cartilage that covers and protects the joint starts deteriorating. Individuals whose jobs require them to be on their feet constantly may also be prone to developing bunions.

Surgery is not always necessary to treat bunions. In most cases they can be managed quite effectively using certain non-invasive measures. Firstly it is important to look for comfortable roomy shoes that do not contribute to further damage and discomfort. Shoes with flat soles or athletic shoes are good options. Even shoes made of soft leather with wide toes and open sandals that do not rub against the affected area work well. It is a good idea to go shoe shopping at the end of the day because at this time your feet are likely to be slightly swollen and hence at their largest size. While trying shoes, ensure that there is at least half an inch of space in front of the longest toe. If you already own shoes that are too tight, you can have them stretched at any shop that repairs shoes. The pain and discomfort caused by bunions may be relieved by placing a special doughnut-shaped pad over the irritated area. You can also place spacers between the toes. Some people obtain relief after using toe spreaders or splints, but these may not be effective in preventing further development of bunions. In some cases bunions develop as a result of a flat foot. To tackle such problems, you can consult a doctor regarding the use of prescription shoe inserts. These help to support the arch of the foot and thus ease pressure from the big toe. This helps to reduce pain and also slows down the development of bunions.

Activities which exert further stress and strain on the foot must be avoided as they can aggravate bunions. Instead opt for activities such as swimming or cycling which take off the pressure from the toes. Ice compresses are helpful in alleviating swelling and pain caused by bunions. There are also some medications available for easing discomfort temporarily. However prolonged use of such drugs should be avoided. It is advisable to avoid taking cortisone shot as these can actually make the ligaments weaker.


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