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How to Prevent Bunions from Getting Worse

by Patty Weasler, RN January 31, 2020 0 Comments

Have you noticed a bony bump on the outside of your big toe? It’s probably a bunion, also called a hallux valgus, and without any lifestyle changes or treatment, it can become larger and painful. Learning how to prevent bunions can go a long way toward improving the quality of life and maintaining mobility. Find everything you need to know here.

Can Bunions Be Reversed?

Conservative bunion treatment is aimed at managing the existing symptoms of pain and redness. By slowing the bunion’s growth you can prevent unnecessary surgery and foot pain. When conservative treatment is no longer effective then the only true way to reverse a bunion is with surgery.

The goal of surgery is to realign the toe joint and remove the bony projection. There are multiple surgical procedures used in bunion surgery. The bunionectomy shaves off the projecting bone and realigns the structure of the foot. In more severe cases the bone will be cut at the base and realigned with bolts and screws. As you can see, taking preventative steps to slow bunion growth is well worth the effort to prevent surgery.

Foot Support

The key to managing bunions is to support your feet and avoid ill-fitting shoes. With a bunion, you are more susceptible to overpronation, which is when your feet roll inward when you walk. If you are unsure which shoe is right for you a podiatrist can help determine your foot type and which supports are necessary. Read on below to learn more about different foot support options and how they can work for your feet.

  • Choose the Right Shoes

    It’s hard to pick a shoe based on comfort versus style but when you have a bunion you need to put health in front of high heels. Look for shoes with low heels, no more than one to two inches. The toe box should be wide enough to let your toes wiggle without compression. And the shoe should fit snug enough to prevent the heel from moving around. If you are having a tough time finding a shoe that fits your needs, you may need an orthotics shoe insert to keep your foot in the best position.

    See our insole buying guide here, where we find the ideal option for any foot.

  • Bunion Pads and Toe Correctors

    When a bunion is protruding far enough from your foot it can rub against the inside of your shoe. This causes bunion pain and redness if left untreated. A simple bunion pad, like moleskin, can cover the bunion to protect it from rubbing. If you suffer from bunions keep a bunion pad with you at all times to be prepared for any shoe irritation that catches you off guard.

    A toe corrector is a device that covers the big toe and lower portion of the foot. It works by correcting the toe alignment by straightening the big toe joint. This relieves pressure and reduces pain. Some bunion splints can be worn under shoes, while others can only be worn without shoes. Look for one that works with your preferences and can be worn on both feet.

  • Taping

    Athletic taping for bunions is one treatment option that is both inexpensive and safe. The athletic tape is placed to help align the big toe away from the second toe. By straightening the big toe you’ll correct some of the foot problems associated with bunion formation including pain, swelling, and malalignment.

To tape your toe and foot, begin by placing a small piece of athletic tape around the base of the big toe. Then place two small strips of tape over the arch. Now that you have the base, place a piece of tape from the big toe down to the arch following the inside edge of your foot. You should be straightening the big toe as you place the tape down. You may need up to three pieces of athletic tape in order to get sufficient toe placement.

Lifestyle Changes

In addition to the treatment options we mentioned above, one of the best ways to prevent a bunion is to make lifestyle changes. If you carry excess weight, you are putting additional pressure on your feet. This causes flat feet and bunions. Maintaining a healthy weight has a positive impact on your entire body, including your feet.

A second lifestyle change that you can make is to have good foot hygiene. We’ve talked about changing your shoes to more reasonable choices. But removing excess calluses and taking care of your feet is so important to your health. It’s easy to forget about your feet, but when you have foot pain, it’ll be the only thing you think about.

When to See a Doctor

Bunions can be an easy at-home condition to treat. But if you have pain despite home treatment it’s time to see a doctor. At first, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. If over-the-counter treatments don’t bring pain relief it might be time for an x-ray of the forefoot to determine the severity of your bunion.

Once your doctor has a better understanding of the size of your bunion he or she can recommend proper treatment. As we’ve discussed, surgery is reserved for the worst cases. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy consult. A physical therapist can suggest exercises to strengthen your feet and help correct any foot mechanics that are off.

Safe and Effective Bunion Prevention

Bunions are an unsightly bone protrusion that begins at the base of the big toe. They may or may not cause pain. Learning how to prevent bunions from getting worse can help avoid surgery and additional pain. There are multiple support measures that you can implement at home, like moleskin, splints, wearing shoes with a wide toe box, and others. If these changes don’t improve your foot deformities then it’s time to consult your doctor.




Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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