While some bunions have no symptoms, many become red, swollen, and painful. They can be so painful that it’s hard for you to put a shoe on or walk. Wearing shoes that fit poorly or have high heels can make bunions worse.
Surgery is required to completely get rid of a bunion, but there are things you can do to manage the symptoms from your bunions and stop bunion formation from getting worse.
15 tips for managing bunions
- Wear the right shoes. Wear proper footwear. Your shoes shouldn’t be tight, the toe area should be wide, and the heel should be less than 1 to 2 inches. It should also have good support for the arch of your foot.
- Avoid flip-flops. Avoid wearing flip-flops and other shoes that have no arch support because they put extra pressure on the big toe joint.
- Know your measurements. Ask the sales person to measure the length and width of your foot when you are buying shoes to help ensure a good fit.
- Size shoes by comfort not number. Shoes from different companies may be sized differently. Always go by what is comfortable, not by your usual foot size.
- Use inserts in your shoes, so your foot is in proper alignment and the arch is supported. You can use the kind sold in drugstores or have prescription orthotics made.
- Stretch your toes. Remove your shoes for a little while and wiggle your toes when you can at work or at home to reduce the pressure on your toes.
- Space your toes out. Use toe spacers at night or while wearing shoes to reduce the pressure on your toes.
- Cushion your bunions. Cover your bunions with bunion pads or moleskin to relieve some of the pressure and make the bunion less likely to be irritated by your shoes.
- Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salt to soothe them and reduce inflammation.
- Ice your foot. Use ice packs to reduce the swelling and inflammation when your bunion gets sore.
- Take NSAID pain relievers. Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to reduce the inflammation and pain.
- Elevate your feet when you are sitting down to reduce the swelling and pain.
- Rest your feet several times a day, especially if you have been on them all day.
- Massage your foot and manually move your big toe around to keep the tissue soft and the toe flexible. Rolling a tennis ball under your foot is a good way to massage it.
- Do foot exercises. Having weak foot muscles may be associated with more pain and walking problems in people with bunions. Some good exercises to strengthen your foot muscles are:
With your heel and forefoot (ball of your foot) on the floor, lift your toes up. Hold for five seconds and release.
With your heel and forefoot on the floor, lift your toes and spread them apart. Reach your little toe toward the floor, and then move your big toe toward the inside of your foot. Hold for five seconds and release.
With your feet on the floor and your knees bent, lift your heels up while pressing down with your big toe. Hold for five seconds and release.
Your feet should be bare when you do the exercises. Repeat each exercise until your muscles are tired. The exercises can be done while you are sitting, standing on two feet, or standing on one foot. Start in whichever position is comfortable and move up to the next position when you can. You should try to do them every day.