If you observed a bony bump on your foot, it’s highly probable that it’s a condition known as bunions. They are often just a cosmetic problem and then people tend to ignore them or sometimes they are even not aware that they have bunions. In some cases, however, they may also cause severe pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are simple, non-invasive methods which will let you get rid of the problem.
Who Gets Bunions?
Everyone can develop a bunion, even children sometimes suffer from this painful condition. There are some factors, however, which may put you in the risk group.
Bunions are a more common problem among women, which is probably connected with the fact that women often wear shoes which are unhealthy for their feet. They are often too tight or too narrow, and of course they also wear high-heeled shoes on an everyday basis.
Bunions often develop because of the genetics. Therefore, if your close relatives have dealt with the problem of bunions, it’s possible that you will get them too.
There are some conditions which may end with bunions. These include rheumatoid arthritis or gout, conditions which often affect a big toe and lead to swelling or deformity of joints.
Flatfoot and low arches also may be the reasons for bunions. If you do some activities, which require putting a lot of pressure on your feet, for example while running, you may develop a bunion as well.
What Are the Causes of Bunions
You’ve probably been wondering where this bony lump comes from. A bunion usually develops as a result of an atypical motion of the foot, which in the world of science is known as excessive pronation. It means that you put your foot in a wrong way and therefore put too much weight on the inner edge of your foot sole.
Your big toe may also bend toward your smaller toes if you suffer from flatfoot or you wear too tight shoes, which may result in painful bunions.
Bad news is that if you leave your bunions untreated, they can affect the rest of your toes as your big toe will press on them. As a result bunions may lead to other annoying conditions, such as hammer toes, ingrown nails, calluses, and corns. You may also develop osteoarthritis in the joint of your big toe.
What Are the Symptoms of Bunions
Often the only problem with bunions is that they look unattractive. Apart from that you may not suffer from any pain or discomfort, but for sure you will feel swelling at the base of a big toe, which is known as a metatarsophalangeal joint.
Unpleasant symptoms of bunions often develop gradually. Thus, later you may notice that your big toe is bent towards your other toes. You can also observe that the joint is reddish or that the skin around the bunion is irritated. The affected joint might be stiff or painful.
The pain bunions cause is maybe not very severe, but it is often continuous. If you feel a sudden and strong pain in your foot, you may suffer from gout, which is another common condition of our feet, often mistaken with bunions. Gout, however, doesn’t cause the deformity of the joints and is much more painful.
How to Get Rid of Bunions Fast
It’s not easy to eliminate bunions, but there are a few non-invasive ways that you can try before you decide to a surgical operation, which should always be a last resort for you. Have a look at these simple methods and get rid of bunions fast and naturally.
1. Proper Footwear
It may be surprising but if your bunion is small, the only thing you may need to do to get rid of it is change your shoes. Bad footwear is actually the most common reason why people develop bunions. Whenever you wear badly fitted shoes, you disturb the flow of blood and synovial fluid, which leads to bunions.
We tend to buy shoes in a very careless way as the most important for us is if they look attractive. Therefore, we often choose too narrow or too tight shoes. That’s a huge mistake as the right size of our shoes is the key to healthy feet. If you have some difficulties with finding right shoes in a shop, you can always have them made by a shoemaker.
Similarly, if you are a woman, don’t wear high heels every day and change them to more comfortable shoes whenever possible. You can, for example, walk to work in flat shoes and then switch to high heels.
Also, if you spend a few hours a day walking in high-heeled shoes, rest your feet from time to time. High heels may make the problem of bunions worse and they can prevent the recovery.
People often believe that athletic shoes are the best option. It’s true, but only if they fit well. Always choose athletic shoes of top quality, with good padding and arches. While trying on new shoes, there is a rule which says that you shouldn’t touch the end of a shoe with your big toe.
2. No Shoes at All
Humans are not created to walk in shoes. Our feet are squeezed in them and the soles of our shoes are usually too soft, which weakens the muscles. Therefore, whenever possible, walk barefoot.
When you do it, your feet are in a natural position and the muscles get stronger. Walking barefoot is actually a very useful piece of advice for people who haven’t formed bunions yet, but who are in the risk group. Therefore, if your often wear high heels or you are genetically burdened with bunions, walking barefoot is the best preventive measure you can take.
Unfortunately, if your bunions are advanced and painful, then walking barefoot is not such a good idea as it can make the problem worse. Then, you can do it only on thick carpets and if that’s not possible, choose thick slippers or padded socks.
3. Foot Exercises
Foot exercises may successfully prevent bunions or if they’ve already occurred, exercises may stop their further development. Every time you take off your shoes, or before you go to bed, do a few simple exercise. It will just take you a while, but your feet will be relaxed after a long day of walking.
The simplest exercise is stretching your big toe. Just pull it with your fingers so that it’s properly aligned with your other toes. You can also stretch all of your toes. Point them straight ahead, wait ten seconds, curl them under, and leave them in this position for ten seconds too. Repeat a few times.
Press your toes against the wall or other flat surface to the point they are bent back. Stay in this position for around ten seconds and relax. Do the exercise several times. Your toes will be more flexible if you do it regularly.
Gripping things with your toes in another brilliant exercise. Just pick up some small and light objects with your toes. It might be a cloth, a small ball, or your slipper. Just pick it up and drop it a few times every day.
Remember, though, that these exercises will be effective only when you do them every day. It’s not difficult, however, as the best thing about them is that you can do them even when you watch TV or read a book, and they require just a few minutes.
4. A Cold Compress
Bunions, apart from being painful, may also cause swelling. It’s very problematic because as a result of that you may have difficulties with wearing your shoes. A cold compress made of an ice pack will reduce the swelling and bring immediate relief from pain.
Wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth or prepare an ice pack. Put it on the bunions for a few minutes, but don’t exceed the time of fifteen minutes as you may develop skin irritation. You can use this method every time your bunions cause pain or swelling.
5. A Warm Bath
Bunions often develop or get more painful as a result of feet tiredness or poor blood circulation. Warm water can improve the blood flow therefore it’s a good idea to prepare a warm bath for your feet.
All you need is a large bowl filled with warm, but not too hot water. Put there your feet for around twenty minutes. You can make it even more effective and relaxing if you add to the water some essential oils or some bath salt. A warm bath will quickly reduce the pain or swelling and you will feel immediate relief.
6. Beneficial Oils
Olive oil and castor oil might be really helpful in getting rid of the bunions. You will improve the blood circulation when you massage the bunion with olive oil at least twice a day. If you do it regularly, you should see that after a few weeks your bunions got smaller.
Castor oil might be helpful due to its amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it won’t reduce the size of the bunions, but it will bring you relief from pain. All you need to do is warm up some castor oil and pour a few drop on a soft and clean cloth.
Place the cloth on your bunion and cover it with a blanket or towel so that it keeps warm. Leave it for a few minutes and the pain will alleviate quickly.
7. Epsom Salt
Another natural painkiller which you can use for bunions treatment is magnesium sulfate, which you will find in Epsom salt. It will alleviate the pain quickly due to its wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.
You need to prepare a bowl of warm water and add there some Epsom salt. Keep your feet in the mixture for around 20 minutes. You will feel immediate relief from pain and if you take this bath every day, you bunions may even get smaller.
8. Bunion Pads
You can stop small bunions from growing by the use of a special bunion pad that will control your problem. The pad will put your toe back to a proper position and will alleviate the pain. You can buy the pad at the nearest pharmacy.
Another option is using special shoe inserts that will realign the toes. You can also use a solution known as Bunion Aid. It seems to be a very effective method but it’s extremely important to get it in a right size that perfectly fits your feet. You use it overnight.
9. Red Pepper
Capsaicin, which is found in red pepper, is a wonderful compound which can quickly alleviate the pain or even significantly reduce the size of your bunions and finally eliminate them.
Red pepper is quite strong so use only a small amount of it during the first time to see if it doesn’t cause any skin irritation. Start with applying a small amount of Vaseline on your bunion and then put the pepper on it. Wrap your foot in a soft cloth to keep it warm. Leave it for about ten minutes. If you follow this process regularly, you should quickly notice the difference.
10. Tape Your Bunion
An old method of getting rid of a bunion is by taping your foot a week or two so that your toes could move back to their natural position. It’s advisable, though, to ask your doctor about it as the taping must be quite strong, but it can’t disturb the blood circulation. Therefore, don’t do it on your own.
How to Prevent Bunions
If you want to successfully prevent bunions development, you need to wear proper shoes. They need to feature wide and quite deep toe boxes, should be flat and must support your arch firmly. Put comfortable, high quality shoes on a daily basis and leave high heels, tight or narrow footwear only on special occasions. Your feet will be grateful for that.
Special supportive shoes or supports for the arch are essential if you suffer from excessive pronation, which is rolling your foot inward. It’s a common cause of bunions therefore you shouldn’t ignore it. Your doctor may also recommend you special orthotic inserts for your shoes.
Another preventive measure is to avoid activities which may potentially cause bunions, such as jumping or running as they put a lot of pressure on your feet. If you don’t want to give the activity up, at least make sure that you do them in proper shoes. The most dangerous activity for your feet is ballet dancing as it requires wearing constrictive shoes.
When to See a Doctor
Preventive measures and home remedies might be not enough if your bunions are advanced and you’ve been experiencing severe pain and discomfort because of them. Fortunately, your doctor will offer you a few solutions so that you can lead a normal life. Remember, though, that the longer you wait with a visit to a doctor, the more difficult it’s to get rid of them.
If the pain your bunions cause is really severe, your doctor might prescribe you some painkillers. You may start with Ibuprofen or Paracetamol and if they don’t work, your specialist will recommend you nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medicines.
Your doctor may also ask you to consider a surgical removal of bunions as it’s the only method when the bunion is actually removed and your toe regains its natural position and alignment. Of course, it will also eliminate the pain and you will return to normal life.
A surgical operation, however, should always be a last resort as it can potentially cause some further problems. For example, sometimes a bunion develops once again. Or when the operation id performed by an inexperienced specialist, he may overcorrect the problem and your toe becomes pointed inward.
There are also rare cases when the operation doesn’t eliminate the problem or the patients can’t move his big toe as before the surgery. Moreover, you need to be double careful if you deal with other conditions, such as circulatory problems, neuromuscular disorders, or diabetes as there is a higher risk of complications after the operation.
People who decide to surgical removal of bunions only because of cosmetic issues are often disappointed as the operation doesn’t solve the problem immediately. Of course, the look will improve but it’s rarely perfect.
Also, after the operation is important to change your daily routines. If once you remove a bunion, you will, for example, start wearing high heels, it’s highly probable that your bunions will reappear.
Sportsmen need to be aware that a big toe might be permanently less flexible after the operation. Therefore, if the only reason you decide to surgery is doing sports intensively, reconsider it as a full range of motions in your big toe might be limited.
You must realize that the success of the surgery depends also on the surgeon’s experience. Therefore, find a good surgeon, who will explain you thoroughly various possible types of operations and you will together choose the best option for you. It should also be a specialist who performs bunion operations on a daily basis.
The Rules of Finding Proper Shoes
It has already been mentioned that good footwear is the key if you want to enjoy life free of bunions. Moreover, it’s sometimes the only answer to your bunion problem. Good and comfortable shoes will prevent or halt the development of bunions, will reduce the pain, and if you removed bunions surgically, they won’t come back.
You need to choose footwear which doesn’t cause any further irritation or rub the bunions. Therefore, sandals or athletic shoes are often the best option. Also, a cobbler may change your shoes in such a way that they will be more comfortable.
You must be aware that it’s absolutely normal that your feet are slightly swollen after a long day and it’s the best time for shoes shopping. Otherwise, it may happen that the shoes which were chosen in the morning are too tight in the evening. Take to the shop any shoe inserts or orthotics you use on a daily basis so that you check them with the shoes you are about to buy.
It’s also quite common that one foot is a little bit bigger than the other one and the rule is to try and choose shoes according to your bigger foot. Similarly, when we get older, our feet tend to get slightly bigger or wider. Remember also that the size often depends on the company so don’t pay attention what a label tells you, but what your feet tell you.
Take your time when you’re choosing shoes. Always try both shoes, stand up in them and walk around the shop to make sure they are comfortable and fit well. A common mistake when purchasing shoes is that we believe they will “break in”. That’s not the case, however, as shoes should be comfortable from the first walking.
When you choose shoes, focus on the space in them. It should be wide and deep so that your toes can naturally move. You big toe should never touch the tip of your shoe.
Also, pay attention to the materials shoes are made of. If it’s poor quality or the material is vinyl or plastic, your feet won’t breathe and sweat, which may cause further irritation of a bunion. Don’t buy high heels or narrowed shoes too. Low-heeled footwear or athletic shoes are the best choice. It’s good when they are laced shoes rather than slip-on ones.
You can live normal live without bunions and pain. The most important thing is to react quickly, don’t ignore the problem consult your doctor about it. There are various possible solutions, either natural or professional ones.
Start with home remedies and if after a few weeks you don’t notice any improvement, turn to a specialist for advice. Also, be aware that introducing changes to your everyday routine can often make the biggest difference.