7 Ways to Ease Bunion Pain Without Surgery

Updated: Mar. 30, 2021

Bunions are painful, but surgery is a hassle. Try these tips to ease bunion pain before going under the knife.


Wear the right shoes daily

Wearing the right kind of shoes every day can relieve pressure and bunion pain. “Shoes should have a wide, flexible sole to support the foot and enough room in the toe box—the part surrounding the front of the foot—to accommodate the bunion,” according to Harvard Health Publications.

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Make sure your shoes fit properly

When getting fitted for new shoes, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends getting shoes fitted at the end of the day, when your feet are the largest. They also suggest that you stand during the fitting process and check that there is adequate space (3/8″ to 1/2″) for your longest toe at the end of the shoe. Here are some suggestions for the best shoes for bunions.


Don’t wear high heels for hours on end

Bunions and bunion pain are 10 times more common in women than men and high heels can pose a serious problem to bunion sufferers. High heels don’t cause bunions, as the underlying cause is genetic. However, according to the Harvard Health Publications, “High heels can exacerbate the problem because they tip the body’s weight forward, forcing the toes into the front of the shoe.” If you’re looking to wear shoes with a little height for a special occasion, try a platform shoe that keeps your foot level. Or stick with heels that are no higher than an inch or two. Find out more horrible things high heels do to your body.


Use padding

Consider purchasing some foam or gel padding from a drug store and placing it over the bunion inside your shoe. This can alleviate some of the pressure and bunion pain when walking around on a day-to-day basis. Here’s more about other types of bunion correctors and how they work.


Ice it

Applying an ice pack throughout the day can help reduce inflammation and bunion pain, according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. This can be particularly helpful if you have to stand for long periods of time. Learn the subtle signs of disease your feet can reveal.


Take anti-inflammatory medications

Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen reduce pain and swelling. Make sure to consult your doctor as to whether your bunion pain necessitates prescription medication, which may be the case if your bunions are caused by arthritis. (Learn more about how to treat the different types of bunions.)


Try orthotics

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) suggests trying either custom-made or over-the-counter shoe inserts. There are many types of inserts that may be able to benefit your specific problem. “Toe spacers can be placed between your toes. In some cases, a splint worn at night that places your big toe in a straighter position may help relieve pain.” Next, don’t miss these 37 secrets your podiatrist isn’t telling you.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest