Home Remedies for Bunions
In the same way you don’t have to see your family physician every single time you get a cold, not all foot conditions need professional treatment.
Sure, the majority actually do—and the truth of the matter is that it’s always a good idea to at least have any issue properly diagnosed—but a mildly-sprained ankle will generally heal if you take some time away from rigorous physical activity, provide ice therapy, and wrap it up.
However, when it comes to bunions, professional treatment is pretty much necessary if you want the condition to actually be corrected.
Why is that?
Well, because bunions are progressive – which means they A) will continue to worsen when left unaddressed and B) are irreversible (without surgical intervention).
To that second point, there is absolutely no home remedy you can attempt that will restore your toe back to its natural position. With that being said, some measures may be able to slow—or possibly even stop—the condition’s progression.
At this point, let’s back up just a little and look at what is actually happening with this common toe deformity. Doing so will help in understanding bunion treatment.
Foot Structure and Bunion Development
The five long bones in each foot are known as your metatarsal bones, and they run lengthwise to your toes. The bones in your toes are referred to as phalanges. Accordingly, the joints where these foot and toe bones meet are called metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints.
The MTP joint for the big toe is the place where bunions develop.
(There is actually a related condition known as a bunionette that can develop on the other side of the foot, at the small toe’s MTP joint.)
An uneven distribution of pressure, which is the result of a variety of factors, causes instability in the joint and its supporting tendons. This instability can create a situation where the big toe will start pointing inwards (towards the other four toes) and the MTP joint’s components become molded into a hardened knob protruding from the inner edge of your foot.
Increased risk of this condition may simply be a matter of genetics and inherited foot structure.
If you have a problematic foot type like flatfeet, abnormal biomechanics can lead to the excessive pressure necessary to create a bunion. Foot injuries, congenital deformities, and neuromuscular disorders are other potential root causes. Additionally, foot or ankle arthritis pain can force someone to alter the way he or she walks, thereby making it more likely for a bunion to form.
If you haven’t noticed, we didn’t say anything about pumps, stilettos, or any other kind of women’s shoes. The reason for this is simply the fact that it is a myth they cause bunions – but there’s a caveat here.
See, while high-heeled shoes don’t actually cause the joint instability necessary for bunion development, they definitely can contribute to the condition. Since the elevated heel leads to an increase in pressure on the front of the foot—along with the fact most of these shoes have very tight toe boxes that force the big toe into an inward-angled position—an existing problem can easily worsen (if the shoes are worn on a frequent basis).
Understanding Bunion Treatment
Given the progressive nature of this condition, we cannot stress the following statement enough:
Early intervention and treatment is the best course-of-action for a bunion!
Put simply, tackling this problem at the earliest possible opportunity reduces the risk that bigger issues will develop later down the road.
When it comes to treating bunions, the typical starting point—particular for mild-to-moderate cases and those that are caught early—is with conservative treatment.
Now, we are here to help and can prescribe a customized, professional treatment plan for you. That said, if you are determined to try on your own, there are some measures you can take that might be able to provide some relief.
As a starting point with this, let’s take a moment to discuss footwear choices. After all, a major component of home care for bunions is to make sure you choose footwear that is appropriate for your condition.
Clearly, high-heeled models do not make the list, so what kinds of shoes do we actually recommend?
Well, there are three features you need to look for in your footwear choices if you want relief from painful symptoms and a chance of keeping the problem from becoming more severe:
- Low heels. We’ve already covered why you should avoid—or at least limit—the pumps and stilettos, but let’s take a moment to consider what a professional woman who needs to wear dressy shoes at the office should do. In cases like this, wear a comfortable, practical pair for your commute, and then change into (and out of) your work shoes when you arrive at (and leave from) the office.
- Wide fronts. Wearing tight footwear can cause irritation, redness, and even pain if you have a bunion. Instead, opt for models that have the width to accommodate the distinctive bump on the inner edge of your foot.
- Deep toe boxes. Width is a pretty natural consideration, but height should be too. Basically, you want as much room as possible in both dimensions. At the same time make sure you are choosing shoes that fit correctly and aren’t too big for your feet. (It’s a delicate balance, we know, but you can always ask us for assistance if you need some.)
Choosing the right shoes is just a starting point when it comes to at-home bunion care.
You can possibly find further relief form pain and swelling by following an appropriate icing regimen and taking over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Running and Bunions
One particular patient demographic that always has questions for our office regarding bunions is runners.
As runners ourselves, we certainly understand not wanting to give up your running program due to a wayward toe – and we have some news you’ll probably be quite happy to hear.
The fact of the matter is that you don’t need to let a bunion keep you from the tracks and trails in and around Ebensburg.
Yes, the repetitive pressure on the affected joint from running can cause pain, but we have some tips that runners might find helpful.
- Start your search for relief with footwear. If your running shoes do not have a wide toe box, try switching to a pair that does. This will keep pressure off of the protrusion.
- If your bunion is not particularly prominent, padding can prevent a painful situation. Need help with this? Just contact our office and we will be happy to assist.
- You may stand to benefit from custom-made orthotics. Our office can measure your feet, analyze your gait, and create ones that work for you and your unique feet.
- Proper taping of your foot might help with the condition as you train, and we can provide instructions on how to do so.
- Incorporate low-impact exercises into your training by replacing some of your running with swimming, yoga, or bicycling. Yoga, in particular, can help if you have been altering your gait to accommodate the painful condition.
Professional Treatment: Your Best Bet for the Relief You Need
As we’ve discussed today, there are measures you can take to find relief from bunion pain at home. That being said, the best course of action is really to come in and see us for professional evaluation and treatment.
When you do, you have trained, experienced doctors who are able to determine why you have developed a bunion in the first place – and this is a necessary step for actually addressing the root cause of the problem.
See, if you don’t address that root cause, the problem won’t go away and, in all likelihood, will only become worse in time.
We don’t want you to suffer from bunion pain or pass up favorite activities because of it! By treating the actual cause, we can give you the opportunity to find relief and have options for your life.
If you would like more information about bunions—or need to request an appointment for treatment with Premier Podiatry Group—simply give us a call at (814) 472-2660 or use our online form to contact us right now!