How can I Reduce the Pain of Bunions?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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Bunions are a common disorder of the foot that progressively creates malformation of the bone and ligament structure at the base of the big toe. The condition may be inherited, though wearing very tight shoes for many years may also cause it. The malformation may at first cause little discomfort, but over time, a large red bump develops at the base of the big toe, caused by jutting bone as the big toe bones curl toward the toe next to it. This bump can be swollen and uncomfortable.

In order to reduce the pain of bunions, some people immediately opt for surgery to correct the big toe malformation. Early correction can sometimes be the best method for avoiding pain, but the surgery can involve significant recovery time. Others decide to live with the condition, especially if the malformation is not advancing quickly. They then must figure out how to make the condition less painful.

There are many treatments that can reduce the pain of bunions. Chief among them is to be selective about footwear. Shoes should be appropriately wide, have a rounded and generous toe box, and women should avoid high heels. Though you may dread the thought of wearing the oft-defamed “sensible shoes,” what you sacrifice in fashion may be well worth it when your shoes reduce your pain.


Even with comfortable or sensible shoe choices, bunion pain can still be intense. Some people derive benefit from using small cushioned bunion pads, usually applied to the food with adhesive, or applied to the inside of a shoe. This extra cushioning can reduce compression on the “toe bump” and alleviate some discomfort. Others opt for padded spacers between the toes. When these don’t help, some people turn to orthotics, inserts in shoes, to help reduce the pain of bunions. You should check with your podiatrist regarding the best choices for you if you plan to purchase orthotics.

There are other direct methods for addressing bunion pain. After a day spent in shoes, many people find that icing the bunion will help reduce swelling and discomfort. It can also help to avoid activities, especially long periods of standing, that hurt your feet. Ordinarily though, by the time you have to eliminate the ability to stand or walk for any lengthy period of time, it may be wise to consider surgery so you can pursue normal activities.

If a bunion is only occasionally uncomfortable, you may reduce the pain of bunions by using over the counter anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. Some people find a small amount of pain relief from acetaminophen, but it is an analgesic and does not help to reduce swelling. On rare occasions, people may opt for injections of cortisone near the bunion site, but this cannot be used often, since it can create degenerative issues with the foot and may cause more discomfort over time.


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Post 2

What is the recovery time with surgery to remove bunions? I understand that it's painful but I have tried everything else that I've read about. I am very active and still young enough that I am not yet ready to throw in the towel.

Post 1

I have found to reduce the pain of a bunion just massage it nightly with an oil rub for a few days and keep walking. You don't need an operation from a Podiatrist and taking drugs is a last resort.

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