Wound Care

Bunion Treatment Without Surgery: What Are the Options?

Bunion Treatment Without Surgery: What Are the Options?

Posted On: December 26, 2022

Bunions affect more than 64 million Americans. These can be a significant nuisance but can cause more serious problems as well. These include foot pain and mobility issues, which can make walking painful and dissuade people from exercising.

It is important to address bunion issues before they worsen. Often, surgery is the only solution.

However, there are myriad options to consider first to see if bunion treatment without surgery is possible. The good news is that most of these are inexpensive and easy to implement. Keep reading to find out ways to have healthier, happier feet.

What Are Bunions?

Bunions are fleshy or bony bumps that form on the joint near the base of your toes, most commonly the big toe. This occurs whenever small bones in that area shift out of place, causing the big toe to pull toward your small toes.

This produced a protrusion at the base of the toe, which can become sore and red. It can cause limited movement in your big toe. Also, corns or calluses can form where other toes push together.

Bunions can result from various joint conditions. These include diseases like arthritis or incidents of foot stress or injury. Bunions are sometimes the result of an inherited curvature of the foot or deformities present at birth.

Wearing high heels, tight shoes, or otherwise ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate existing problems. But you may experience ongoing pain or soreness regardless of the types of shoes you wear.

Bunion Treatment Without Surgery

Research has demonstrated that you can treat bunions without surgery, shrinking them in size and even eliminating them in many instances. Here are the most effective treatment regimens. (Note that often some combination of the below options is the most impactful approach.)

Heat and Ice Therapies

Both hot and cold therapies are a good place to start when figuring out how to treat bunions naturally. Heat therapies increase blood flow throughout your feet. This can help ease soreness in your muscles and joints.

Cold therapies–including ice baths and packs–cause blood vessels to constrict. This can reduce swelling and inflammation. Over time, this can have a cumulative effect on bunion symptoms.

Warm or ice soaks can both soothe irritated areas of your toes impacted by bunions. Note that elevating your feet, in combination with ice packs or heating pads, can help as well.

Pads, Correctors, Splints, and Orthotics

Bunion pads can help relieve pain associated with bunions. They are usually sleeves or smaller adhesive cushions that act as padding between your foot and shoes or the ground.

Bunion correctors and splints have the opposite approach to pads. Rather than treating the surface, they address the causes of bunions. Bunion correctors are (usually) sleeves that focus on the toe by shifting it back into the proper position.

A particular type of bunion corrector is the bunion splint. They are spacers that help realign the tendons, muscles, and ligaments that have become out of balance.

One limitation of splints is that they cannot be worn with regular shoes. For this reason, many people put them on at night. The goal is that, over time, the toes (and connecting tissues) will retain their original configuration.

One similarity to pads that correctors have is that they are most effective at slowing the progression of bunions. However, another commonality is that their effectiveness at reversing the effects may be limited.

Orthotics combine the function of pads, correctors, and splints. They usually come in the form of shoe inserts. They provide both padding and disperse the pressure around the bunion areas.

There are over-the-counter orthotic inserts, but they are less likely to relieve the target area. By definition, custom orthotics are designed for your unique feet conditions. They can go a long way to alleviating pain and preventing the worsening of bunion symptoms.

Steroid Injections

Cortisone injections are another example of bunion treatments that do not require surgery. These are more invasive than other options on this list (but, of course, less invasive than surgery).

Steroids dissipate inflammation in areas of your foot impacted by bunions. They can render results much quicker than some of the more incremental treatments discussed above.

There are limitations to steroid treatments. One is that you can only receive them three or four times a year, and you must wait about six weeks between treatments.

Over-The-Counter Medications

Non-prescription medications are a great option when figuring out how to fix bunions without surgery. One is anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. These can go a long way to alleviating pain in the short term.

Another option is topical creams, lotions, gels, and oils. Pain-relief gels used for sports injuries can offer the same benefits to bunions and affected areas of your feet.

There are other over-the-counter creams designed specifically for bunion relief. These can help with joint pain and soothe irritated skin. Also, essential oils–including lavender, peppermint, and rosemary–can help relieve inflammation when massaged into the area.

Exercises and Massages

One of the easiest ways to treat bunions without surgery is to massage and exercise your feet. The latter includes simple toe stretches, where you point and hold, then curl and hold your toes for several seconds. Doing 15 to 20 repetitions at least once a day can help relieve pressure around the bunion, as well as any affected joints.

Another exercise is the hallux valgus release. This involves operating the first and second toe to gain access to the inner base of your big toe.

Massaging this area can relieve soreness. You also can use it to expand the range of motion for the toe. Performing this for just a few minutes a day can go a long way to helping bunion pain.

Losing Weight

The more weight you are carrying, the harder it is on your feet. Losing weight can be an effective bunion treatment without surgery. It will reduce pressure on your bunions and the joints, ligaments, and muscles throughout your feet.

Learn More About Bunion Treatments Without Surgery

Now that you know some of the best options for bunion treatment without surgery, you can determine which are best for you. The good news is that all the above options are inexpensive and accessible to almost anyone. Give them a try to see what impact they can have on correcting bunions or (at the very least) relieving symptoms.

At Graff Foot, Ankle, and Would Care, we bring more than 24 years of experience in medical services. Our staff maintains the highest levels of accreditation and stays up-to-date on the latest podiatry trends. Reach out to us today to schedule an appointment or to learn how we can help you address bunion or other foot-related conditions.