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Bones, Bumps, and Bunions: 8 Effective Solutions for Bunion Pain

Dr. Zubair Mirza

3 min read

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Bunions may look unappealing and cause pain, particularly when walking, but these bony outgrowths or bumps on the outside of the big toe (usually on both feet) rarely ever warrant surgical correction; most cases never worsen to the point of surgery, and simply require pain management via habitual adjustments, pain-relievers, and orthotics, in some cases. Below we discuss some methods that you can employ to manage your bunion pain.

1- Shoe Revolution

Instead of buying slightly tight shoes in hopes that they will stretch, wear wide (square or widely rounded toes), well-fitting shoes that leave 3/8-1/2 an inch for your 4th toe at the end of the shoe when standing, with heels no higher than 1-2 inches and minimum slippage.  For those with highly protruding bunions, buying shoes that are one, or a half, size larger than their current size may also help ease the pain.

2- Foot Exercises

Practice foot shortening by raising the arch of your feet while keeping your heels lifted and toes uncurled, or using your toes to write letters or words in the air or picking up marbles and placing them in a bowl, among other exercises, in order to reduce pain and improve toe mobility by strengthening the foot and calf muscles responsible for proper foot movement.

You can also simply try stretching your toes. Try bending them downwards and then pointing them straight for a few seconds. You can also use your fingers to stretch the toes back into their original position and holding them there for a few seconds. Do these two to three times a day to ease the bunion pain.

3- Ice

Place an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables for 5-minutes at a time, and no longer to avoid ice burns, over your bunions for instant pain relief in case of inflammation or after standing for long periods of time. However, people with poor circulation or nerve damage due to diabetes should avoid foot-icing.

4- Turmeric Powder

This anti-inflammatory spice is also an effective bunion pain solution. Simply apply a paste of olive oil and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder over your bunions 2-3 times a day for continued pain relief. Alternatively, soaking in a tub of hot water mixed with adequate amounts of magnesium-containing Epsom salt thrice a week also provides similar benefits.

5- Medication

In addition to using OTC painkillers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or cortisone injections, in certain cases, for instant relief, pain resulting from arthritis or other bunion-causing conditions can be relieved via medications specifically for the condition.

6- Padding and Taping

For additional protection and pain relief by reducing stress on the bunion caused by walking or standing, patients may either choose to have their foot taped into a normal position, or wear OTC, non-medicated, reusable bunion pads made of gel or fleece by either sticking them directly over the bunion or holding it against the toe via a small loop, while making sure that they fit them exactly in order to avoid additional pressure. Toe splints may also be worn at night to retain normal foot position and alleviate pain. To make sure that you are wearing these splints correctly you should get in touch with the best orthopedic surgeon in Karachi for their professional opinion.

7- Shoe Inserts

Padded OTC or custom-made inserts such as insoles and toe spacers (usually placed between the first and second toe to reduce friction) alongside bunion-appropriate footwear can help prevent further bunion growth. However, the use of toe spacers may be limited due to restricted toe space in most shoes.

8- Creams and Ointments

Another at home treatment measure is creams. These can aid in reducing the inflammation. These creams are known as analgesic creams and contain elements such as calendula which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Apply the cream to the bunion and it should reduce the swelling and the bunion pain.

When to See a Doctor

While most cases are easily manageable via general safety measures and occasional pain management, certain individuals may require medical care in case of:

  • A visible bump on the big toe joint
  • Increasing bunion size or inflammation
  • Diabetes (as it can cause complications for foot problems)
  • Persistent pain, even after home treatments for a few weeks
  • Difficulty finding well-fitting shoes due to an overly-enlarged bunion

Some patients might even have to go for surgery, however, it is a last step if the pain becomes unbearable. There are multiple options for surgery depending on the severity of the deformity. The results guarantee correction and ease in pain, but some patients still feel dissatisfied according to surveys.

Therefore, consult your doctor regarding this and only go through with it once you are satisfied with the whole procedure and outcomes.

If you have bunion pain and suspect the condition to be worsening, consult with your doctor for suitable treatment options. You can also book an appointment with a top Orthopedic Specialist in Karachi, Multan and Rawalpindi through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your foot troubles.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Zubair Mirza - Author Dr. Zubair Mirza is a Orthopedic Surgeon practicing in Karachi. Dr. Zubair Mirza has the following degrees: MBBS, FRCS (England), LMSSA (England) and has 50 years of experience.
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