If you’ve seen a bony bump on your foot, you can be sure with 90% certainty that it is a condition known as bunions. Now, bunions are usually nothing serious .
They are merely a cosmetic problem, and most people ignore them. In some cases, people do not even know they have bunions. However, sometimes these bunions can cause pain and discomfort.
This is the time people ask how to get rid of bunions. Before we get to all the solution and non-invasive methods, we need to discuss what are bunions, what are the causes of bunions, and symptoms that help you identify the problem.
What are bunions?
Before we get any further, everyone can develop a bunion. Even children can suffer from the condition. There are, however, risk factors.
For example, bunions are more common problem among women, due to the fact that women usually wear shoes that are unhealthy for the feet.
We talk about high heels of course, which sometimes are too tight or too narrow.
These bony bumps usually develop due to genetics. If any of your close relatives dealt with the problem, chances are, you will have to deal with it as well.
Some health conditions can often result in bunions as well. These include gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and other health conditions affecting the big toe and causing swelling of joints.
Activities that require putting a lot of pressure on the feet, like running, can also result in development of bunions.
Causes of bunions
We talked about the risk groups and factors of bunions, but how do these exactly appear? And why do they appear?
The bony lump develops as a result of an atypical motion of the foot. In the world of science, the term is “excessive pronation”.
This means you are putting your foot in a wrong way and because of that you are putting too much weight on the inner edge of the foot sole.
If you suffer from flatfoot, or wear tight shoes, your big toe may also bend toward the smaller toes. This results usually in painful bunions.
The good news is that bunions can easily be treated with non-invasive methods .
The bad news is that if you leave them untreated, they can affect the rest of your toes as the big toe will press on them. And that results in more annoying and problematic conditions like ingrown nails, hammertoes, calluses, and corns.
Symptoms of bunions
As mentioned previously, one of the primary symptoms of bunions is the bony lump. The main and probably the only problem with bunions is they look unattractive.
Some people suffer from pain and discomfort, some do not. But you will feel swelling at the base of the big toe, which is known as the metatarsophalangeal joint.
The unpleasant symptoms of bunions start low, and then develop gradually. Therefore, at the later stages, you may notice that your big toe is bent towards the other toes.
You can also notice that the joint is becoming reddish and that the skin around the bunion is irritated. The affected joint can be painful and/or stiff.
Pain caused by bunions is not severe, but it is often continuous. Sudden and strong pain is not a symptom of bunions. Instead, that is a symptom of gout, another common condition affecting the feet.
Home remedies for bunions
When you want to find the answer to how to get rid of bunions, the easy thing to do is to look for natural and home remedies.
Let’s be honest, it is not easy to eliminate bunions. However, there are a couple of non-invasive ways you can try before you go for a surgical operation.
Wear proper footwear
This may sound unrealistic, but if your bunion is small, you do not need to do much . The only thing you need to do is to change your shoes.
As mentioned previously, bad footwear is the most common reason for the development of bunions. If you wear badly fitted shoes, you disturb the flow of blood to the foot, and the result is bunions.
Do not buy too narrow or too tight shoes. The right size of your shoes is the key to healthy feet.
For women, the crucial thing to do is to stop wearing high heels on a daily basis . Do not wear them every day, even though you look more beautiful and they give you confidence.
Change them to more comfortable shoes whenever possible. For example, you can walk to work in flat shoes, and then switch to heels if your work demands that.
Athletic shoes are the best option, as long as they fit well. And when you buy athletic shoes, go for those of top quality that have good padding and arches.
Try to walk barefoot
Our ancestors walked barefoot. Humans are not created to walk in shoes. When we wear shoes, we squeeze our feet in them and the soles of our shoes are usually too soft, which weakens the muscles. When possible, walk barefoot to avoid bunions.
When you walk barefoot, your feet are in a natural position and your muscles get stronger. Walking barefoot is a great way to eliminate bunions, but also to prevent bunions.
However, if the bunions are in the advanced stage and are already painful, walking barefoot is not a good idea and can make the problem worse.
Exercises for your feet can help you prevent bunions, but also stop their further development. Doing a few simple feet exercises will take you a couple of minutes, but your feet will be thankful. You will notice your feet feel more relaxed after a long day of walking.
The simplest exercise is to stretch your big toe. Just pull it with your fingers so that the toe is properly aligned with the other toes. Then stretch all other toes.
Another exercise is pressing your toes against a wall or any other flat surface. Press them to the point they are bent back, and then stay in the position for 10 seconds. Repeat few times. Doing this exercise on a regular basis will improve flexibility of your toes.
Bunions often cause swelling. And that is on top of the pain they cause. Because of the swelling, you might have even bigger problems wearing your shoes.
Therefore, a cold compress made of ice pack will help you reduce the swelling, and bring immediate relief.
Just wrap a couple of ice cubes in a clean cloth, and then press it on the bunions for a few minutes. Do not press for more than 10 minutes, as you might develop skin irritation.
When you walk for long time, and when your feet are tired, bunions either get more painful, or start appearing. Warm water can improve the blood flow, circulation, and reduce tiredness of your feet.
All you need to do is prepare a warm bath. Just fill a large bowl with warm, but not too hot water, and put your feet inside for 20 minutes. Add a couple of essential oils to the bath if you want to make the experience more pleasant.
You can use castor and olive oil to get rid of bunions. These oils improve circulation, so massage the bunions with castor and olive oil two times per day. Regular massage will yield results in a few weeks.
Essential oils massage
For those that want to take things to the next level, go for essential oils instead of castor and olive oil . Essential oils contain a lot of antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
All of these help with bunions. Lavender oil is the best, as it helps you relax the feet as well.
Make sure to warm the oil in the palms of your hands, and then massage the affected area with your fingers for 10 minutes.
Epsom salt is a natural painkiller that can also be used for bunions treatment. Epsom salt contains magnesium sulfate, a natural painkiller that will alleviate the pain and provide anti-inflammatory properties.
Prepare a bowl of warm water, and then add some Epsom salt inside. Keep your feet in the bowl of water for 20 minutes. Repeat every day, and your bunions will get smaller.
Capsaicin, the main active compound of red pepper, is another natural painkiller. This ingredient can significantly reduce the size of bunions and eventually eliminate them.
Because red pepper is quite strong, use it in small amounts. Apply small amount of Vaseline directly on your bunions, and follow it up with some red pepper. Wrap the foot in a soft cloth to keep it warm. After 10 minutes, remove the wrap.
Bunions pads might not be natural remedies, but nevertheless, they are non-invasive methods for how to get rid of bunions. These pads can stop small bunions from growing up.
The pad will help put the toe back to a proper position, and alleviate the pain in the process.
When to see a doctor?
When bunions are in advanced or in severe stage, preventive measures and home remedies for bunions might not be enough.
If you experience severe pain and discomfort due to bunions, you might be inclined to schedule a doctor’s appointment. The longer you wait to visit the doctor, the more difficult it will be to be get rid of bunions.
Do not worry, doctors will help you find few solutions that will allow you to lead a normal life. They will not cut your feet off.
That bump at the base of your big toe is probably a bunion. Bunions are a cause of joint pain and a common problem among women who wear high heels a lot; people who spend a lot of time on their feet (especially if wearing tight shoes); and those who exercise with poor form. At first you might not think your bunion is any big deal, but when left untreated, bunions can cause serious scar tissue to form in the foot, toe abnormalities and a whole lot of pain.
The word “bunion” comes from the Greek word for turnip. It’s now the common name for that bony bump that can grow on the outside of the foot because bunions often look red and swollen — just like a turnip.
A bunion (also referred to as hallux valgus) causes the joint of the base of the big toes to stick out and become enlarged. Normally, things like wearing tight-fitting shoes and putting too much pressure on the toes slowly cause abnormalities in the big toe’s joint position. Repetitive motion can also distort or enlarge the joint that connects the big toe to the rest of the foot, causing a bony bump to appear, along with pain and swelling.
For most people, bony bunion growths appear slowly and gradually cause more and more pain. At first you might notice that your big toe is turning inward a bit more than usual, the outer edge is becoming puffy and your foot appears red. Before long, you might have a good deal of pain when standing up, wearing shoes and exercising.
Both men and women can get develop bunions, but women tend to have them more often, likely because they tend to wear more constricting shoes. High heels, for example, can squeeze the toes together, restrict blood flow and cut off the big toe’s normal range of motion. Over time, this winds up pulling the big toe joint out of place. Then scar tissue can form and swelling occurs, which results in abnormal positioning of the feet.
A bunion might start out small but keep growing the more that the toes are constricted — and the bigger the bunion gets, the harder it is to walk and move normally. Experts advise anyone who suspects bunions to see a professional for help right away, since early treatment gives the bunion the best odds of healing. It’s not a good idea to leave a bunion alone to heal on its own, and in fact this can cause complications. Wearing roomier shoes, correcting your form when walking or running, stretching your toes, and applying essential oils for arthritis and joint pain can all help resolve bunions, although every case is different and some might require more intensive treatments.
Natural Bunion Treatment
1. Wear Wider Shoes
Changing your shoes can help take stress off of your big toe and allow the bunion to heal. Most people find relief from bunions once they switch to wearing wider shoes that allow for enough toe “wiggle room,” according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS). This helps take pressure off the big toe and allows for better circulation and range of motion that stops the joint abnormality from worsening.
If you aren’t sure what type of shoes would be best for your feet and allow for a bigger “toe box,” visit a specialist at a sneaker or athletic store who can measure your feet. Some people find that shoes with laces or straps are best since these can be custom-adjusted to the width of your feet. (1)
In addition to recommending certain shoes for relieving bunions, a specialist can also tell you what type of arches you have and therefore what types of sneakers would be best to wear when working out to prevent other common injuries, like plantar fasciitis. It’s also possible to modify shoes using a stretcher to stretch out the areas that put pressure on your toes, if needed
The AAOS recommends that people with bunions “avoid shoes that are too short, tight, or sharply pointed, and those with heels higher than a couple of inches.” High heels can increase pressure in the front of the foot and lead to various foot problems in some cases. (2)
2. Use Pads or Shoe Inserts to Correct Your Foot’s Position
Using shoe inserts, a bunion corrector or “bunion pads” can help correct the position of your feet and take weight off your toes. These are sometimes called “orthoses” and work by redistributing pressure away from the affected joint.
Some people need more heel and arch support in order to improve their feet’s range of motion and correctly balance their body weight over the entire foot. A combination of buying the right type of shoes for your feet and also adding extra support/cushion might be enough to solve the problem. You can usually find bunion pads or something similar in most drug stores/pharmacies and don’t necessarily need to visit a doctor for help. Just make sure that you test the pads for a short time period first to ensure they’re reducing pressure, rather than constricting toes even more and making the bunion bump even worse.
3. Stretch the Feet
If your toes feel stiff, stretching and moving the toe joints can help relax the foot muscle and lessen joint pain. Try practicing simple bunion stretching exercises at home, such as flexing and unflexing the toes, rolling them over a tennis ball, and massaging them in your hands. To stretch your toes, point your toes straight ahead for five seconds and then curl them under for five seconds, repeating 10 times or more daily. You can also wrap a towel under your affected toe and use it to roll your toe around or stretch it forward. (3)
4. Fix Your Form When Exercising
The American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons recommends that people prone to developing bunions avoid activities that cause increased pain, burning and worsened swelling, including standing for long periods of time or running. (4) If you recently started a new exercise program that’s causing your feet pain or you’re experiencing signs of another running injury, poor form might be to blame. Rolling your ankles, not running with proper form and landing too hard on your toes can trigger inflammation near the big toe.
This is another scenario when proper shoes are a must. You might also want to meet with a physical therapist if you notice pain in your heels, arches or ankles since they can show you proper foot alignment and explain how to run lightly on your feet.
5. Manage Pain Naturally
When pain becomes bad, you can apply ice several times a day for 20 minutes at a time. Elevate your affected foot to help reduce swelling, and try massaging the foot with an anti-inflammatory essential oil. You can help keep down swelling by applying essential oils, such as frankincense and peppermint oil.
Bunion Facts and Statistics
• Some studies have found that almost half of the adult population has some form of a bunion. (5) Other studies show that bunion deformities in the feet have an estimated prevalence of 23 percent to 35 percent. (6) For most adults, bunions are minor and don’t cause noticeable pain.
• Bunions affect more women than men. Women’s high-heeled shoes with a heel higher than 2.25 inches (5.7 centimeters) are most likely to cause bunions. (7)
• Bunions are more common in adults over the age of 65 than any other age group.
• Bunions can also affect young people. These are called adolescent bunions and are most common in girls between the ages of 10 and 15. Adolescent bunions are often genetic and run in families.
• Around 2 percent of children under 10 years old develop bunions.
• Bunions are technically diagnosed when the big toe turns in at an angle greater than 15 degrees.
• Bunions affect people most who wear tight shoes or who spend lots of time on their feet, including dancers and athletes.
• Surgery for bunions is only very rarely needed, and some studies have found that after surgery up to 35 percent of patients report being unsatisfied with the outcome of the operation.
Bunion Symptoms and Signs
According to the AAOS, common symptoms and signs of a bunion include: (8)
• A swollen, enlarged base of the big toe. The outer edge of the big toe might appear red, puffy and warm. The larger area around the big toe might also become swollen.
• You might notice a growth or hard enlargement that appears at the side of the big toe where it meets the foot. Some people describe the growth of a hard, “bony” bump that protrudes outward and becomes irritated by wearing shoes.
• The big toe faces inward more than usual toward the smaller toes. Sometimes an enlargement first appears along with the toe pointing inward before pain starts to actually develop. When a bunion becomes severe, the big toe might actually start to turn inward so much that it crosses over the second toe and pushes that toe out of place.
• Pain in the toes, especially near the big toe. Either the entire big toe joint or just the inner part of the joint can ache when you walk or put pressure on your feet.
• Pain when wearing specific shoes that are tight around the toes, but not other shoes.
• The toes develop a limited range of motion and feel restricted.
• Calluses that develop where the toes rub against each other and hardened skin that forms under the toes.
• You might develop a smaller bunion (called a “bunionette”) on the joint of your little toes that appears the same way.
• In some cases, an enlarged metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint that’s left untreated can lead to bursitis or arthritis. Bursitis is caused by inflammation of bursa (fluid-filled sacs that cushion the space between bones near joints). Arthritis can be caused if the smooth cartilage that covers the joint becomes damaged from prolonged pressure and scarring.