While so-called “bunion correctors” can help relieve pain from bunions, they don’t actually fix or remove them. Only surgery can remove a bunion. Other options like orthotics and exercises can also help reduce pain.
A bunion is a large bump on your big toe. It occurs at the joint at the bottom of your toe. A bunion happens over time as the top of your big toe bends closer to your other toes.
Genetics and joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause bunions. Tight footwear can make bunions worse.
Bunions can cause you to experience pain in your big toe and under your foot. The joint may become inflamed. The condition may also increase your risk of osteoarthritis in your toe.
Both nonsurgical and surgical options for bunion correction have the same goal: to relieve pain. Bunion surgery may make your foot look different or your shoes more comfortable. But you’re usually only a candidate for surgery if the bunion is painful.
Read on to learn more about how to reduce pain from bunions through exercises you can do at home, over-the-counter products, and surgery.
Nonsurgical options can relieve pain and discomfort from bunions. They can also stop bunions from getting worse. But they can’t make bunions go away or reverse the changes in your foot.
Bunion correctors are available online without a prescription or over the counter. They may resemble a sleeve or stiff splint that straightens the big toe while you wear it. According to the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, correctors do not fix bunions, but they may reduce pain.
A toe spacer you can place between your toes can also reduce strain on the big toe joint. As with bunion correctors, this can ease discomfort but won’t get rid of the bump.
Wearing the right shoes can prevent pressure on your toes and reduce discomfort from bunions. Footwear that may help can be open-toed or wide around the toes. Shoe inserts, called orthotics, may also help improve the fit of the shoe.
You may also find relief with cushions or padding around the toe. Fit is important, as the extra material inside the shoe may increase pressure instead of relieving it.
Strengthening your foot muscles may also reduce bunion pain, which can make walking easier. Exercise won’t make the bunion look different. A physical therapist can recommend the right foot, hip, and leg exercises for you.
To strengthen your foot, you may want to start with these three exercises to reduce bunion pain:
- Short-foot exercise: Raise your toes while keeping your heel and the front of the foot on the floor.
- Toe-spread-out exercise: Spread your toes while your heel and the front of the foot are on the floor. Press down on the floor with your little toe. Then, press down on the floor with your big toe.
- Heel-raise exercise: Raise your foot arch. Lift your heel off the floor. Keep pressure on your big toe.
Hold all exercises for 5 seconds and perform them until your muscles tire.
Can nonsurgical options help correct Tailor’s bunions (bunionettes)?
A bunionette occurs in the main joint of the baby toe. Many of the same nonsurgical remedies to relieve pain from a bunion can also help with a bunionette. These can include:
- comfortable footwear
- foot exercises
Bunion correctors are usually designed to straighten the big toe and do not fix bunionettes.
You may be a candidate for bunion surgery if you live with pain and nonsurgical options are ineffective for you. Surgery can correct a bunion by realigning the bones, ligaments, and tendons to put the big toe back into place. Some people still experience pain in the toe after surgery.
An osteotomy involves cutting one or more bones in your toe. The surgeon can then realign the joint to reduce or remove the bunion.
The doctor may make small cuts in the bone or remove a piece to finish the realignment. They fix the cut bone with metal pins, screws, or plates.
Arthrodesis removes the bunion by removing the surfaces of the big toe joint. The surgeon then uses wires, pins, screws, or plates to hold the surfaces of the toe bones together until they fuse. They then remove the wires or pins.
Your toe is rigid after this procedure.
An exostectomy removes the bony bump from the big toe joint but does not realign the joint. A surgeon will usually perform an exostectomy along with an osteotomy. These bony lumps can come back.
Can a chiropractor fix my bunion?
Chiropractors stretch and apply pressure to areas of the body. They also work on specific joints to improve joint mobility. A small 2005 study in a chiropractic journal found that certain chiropractic techniques and treatment with ice helped relieve pain in a group of 30 people.
But there’s little other research to support the use of chiropractic to help treat bunions. Generally, only surgery can correct bunions.
Bunions are bony bumps on the joint at the base of the big toe. Treatment focuses on relieving pain.
Many people find pain relief through nonsurgical methods such as comfortable footwear, orthotics, and padding. Exercises can also increase foot muscle strength.
If pain persists, several surgical options can correct the bunion and align the big toe joint.