Bunions are no bueno. These bony, painfully inflamed lumps at the base of your big toe joint can be caused by genetics—or can result from years of wearing narrow and constricting shoes. In addition to seeing a healthcare professional for your bunion (or bunionette), there are things you can do at home to keep the bunion pain at bay. Here are five home remedies for bunions:
1. Soak Your Feet
Soaking your feet in water can ease soreness and reduce inflammation; plus, it feels really great. To get soaking, start by filling a bath, basin, or tub with warm water. Run enough water to cover your feet, and then add epsom salts. The magnesium in the salt will help reduce inflammation and relax tense muscles. Be sure to soak your feet for at least five minutes to reap the full benefits.
2. Switch up Your Shoes
Bunions can widen your feet and cause discomfort—especially if you’re wearing shoes that are too tight. So, now might be the time to consider buying a new (wider) pair of shoes. When you purchase new shoes, be sure to measure your feet for sizing purposes (most shoe stores have measuring devices on hand). Allow for plenty of room in the toebox. Sometimes a wide size offers a better fit. Once you know your size, you can take advantage of the huge inventory available online. There are plenty of stores online that offer stylish shoes in a wide variety of sizes and widths. If you have a pair of leather shoes, you might want to invest in a shoe stretcher, which can help you create just enough excess space for that “ah, so comfortable” feeling.
3. Stretch Your Big Toes
Stretching can relieve joint pain in your limbs—and the same goes for your toes. To get stretching, sit in a comfortable position and lean forward, grabbing your big toe between your fingers or with a resistance band. Pull it back gently, and hold for at least ten seconds. Only pull your toe until you feel a stretch; it shouldn’t be painful. Try to keep your toe and foot aligned as you stretch, and remember to breathe. Repeat the stretch three to four times per day. (Need help with toe stretches? Use our easy GetPT finder to find a PT in your area.)
4. Soothe Your Pain with a Topical Analgesic
Topical analgesics are gels, creams, or ointments applied directly to the skin for topical pain relief. Massage your affected toe with the analgesic for relief from tight muscles. Some examples of topical analgesics are Icy Hot, Bengay, and ActivOn. Typically, you can find these in pharmacies or grocery stores. If your pain is severe or arthritis-related, a healthcare professional can prescribe stronger topical treatments.
5. Simmer Down Soreness with Ice
Applying ice to your toe can reduce swelling and ease discomfort. Ice your foot for ten to 20 minutes. To avoid putting the ice in direct contact with your skin, wrap the ice pack (or frozen veggies, amirite?) in a towel. Keep your iced foot elevated above your heart to encourage the fluid to flow away from your limbs, further reducing swelling.
Soak, switch, stretch, soothe, and simmer down. Keep these DIY tips in mind to ease bunion pain and discomfort.