There are many things that can be done to help relieve the pain experienced from bunions without having to have surgery. Typically, bunions cause pain in two ways. First, the bump that forms on the side of the foot receives excessive pressure when shoes are worn. Over time, this pressure will lead to inflammation and pain. Often, an inflamed bursa sac will form, which causes swelling, more pressure, and more pain. So, the first thing that should be done conservatively to relieve pain from bunions is to make sure your shoes are wide enough. This may mean that you will not only have to go to a wider size, but also be willing to wear different styles of shoes that have more width in the toe box. I often encourage my patients to have their shoes stretched. Most shoe repair shops can do this at a low cost to the patient. Even better is to have the shoe stretched just where the bunion is. This is referred to as spot stretching. By doing so, there will be less pressure on the bunion, and pain should decrease. There are also a variety of padding options available to relieve pressure.
The second cause of pain with bunions is generally due to arthritis in the joint. Non-surgical options to treat arthritic pain include anti-inflammatory medication and cortisone injections to decrease inflammation. Orthotics are sometimes helpful in relieving excessive stress on the joint, which can decrease pain.
The suggestions for non-surgical treatment listed above are most helpful when the bunion has not progressed to being moderate or severe. Please realize that none of these measures will actually