The following article is sponsored by Jean Brown Research.
Even if you rarely wear high heels, you could still be sporting a big bony protrusion on the side of one of your feet. Bunions can be caused or exacerbated by wearing high heels or just tight shoes that don’t fit correctly, but they also tend to run in families, so your foot may be looking much like your mom’s.
That’s not to mention the pain you might be experiencing, just like mom, too (one day a steady throb, the next a few sharp zings). The only permanent solution to the disfigurement and pain is surgery. But if you’re not ready to take that step, you can try some other ways to deal with your bunion.
Buy shoes that fit
Let’s start with the most enjoyable fix: going shopping. This is your excuse to buy some new shoes. Find footwear that is roomy in the toe area. To get just the right fit for your unique foot, find staff at shoe stores that can measure and fit you with the right shoes. WebMD adds this advice: look for shoes with good arch supports.
Try shoe inserts
Since Harvard Medical School points out that low arches and flat feet make it more likely someone will develop bunions, correcting that problem can help with the discomfort.
Apply ice and take acetaminophen
These are easy and quick ways to ease the pain when it flares up. Put ice or a cold pack on the aching joint, with a light cloth between the ice and your skin, and apply for “10 to 20 minutes at a time,” WebMD recommends. Warm soaks and massage can help, too.
Protect with patches
During the winter months especially, when flip-flops and sandals with strategically placed straps are out, you might need to cushion your bunion from being rubbed by your shoes. WebMD gives this tip: “Put moleskin or felt patches over or around pressure areas.”
Mix up your exercise
If your standard routine has you putting most of your weight on your feet, try a new one. Swimming or biking are examples of activities that are lower impact, WebMD says.
Stretch, flex and roll
Short and frequent foot exercises “can help keep the joint between your big toe and the rest of your foot mobile, maintaining flexibility and strengthening the muscles that control your big toe,” according to Everyday Health.
Gently pull your big toe into proper alignment with your fingers for 10 seconds and repeat a few times; pick up marbles with your toes or curl them around a small towel; “press your toes against a hard surface such as a wall, to flex and stretch them”; massage the bottom of your foot by rolling it over a golf ball on the floor. A particularly enjoyable exercise Everyday Health recommends is walking on the beach; the sand “can give you a gentle foot massage and also help strengthen your toes.”
A bunion doesn’t have to automatically mean surgery. But if these shorter-term remedies aren’t working or you are looking for a long-term solution, surgery may be the best option.