How To Prevent Pain from Bunions (No More High Heels!)

Armen Hareyan's picture

No need to dread putting on your shoes because of a bunion.

The February 2005 issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter offers advice to ease the pain from these abnormal bony protrusions that can form at the base of your big toe.

Bunions develop over years of abnormal motion and pressure to your big toe joint. The underlying cause could be flat feet, low arches or shoes that fit improperly.

They usually aren't painful. However, the cushioning sac of fluid over the affected joint can become inflamed and cause pain. Pressure from a shoe that fits tightly over the bunion also may cause pain. What to do?

Make sure that your shoes don't crowd or irritate your toes. Don't wear shoes that are too tight, narrow or pointed.

Avoid high heels that force your toes to the front of your shoes.

Stretch your shoes. Shoe-stretching devices and sprays can be used on tight shoes to give your toes more room.


Support your arches. Nonprescription shoe inserts can help keep your foot from leaning inward and alleviate pain.

Pad the bunion. A self-adhesive pad or nonprescription bunion pad may minimize pain. This generally works only for mild bunions. Padding may actually contribute to crowding with severe bunions and make the problem worse.

Ice it. If the bunion is inflamed or painful, apply ice several times a day.

Control the pain. Nonprescription pain relievers may be recommended to control the pain.

Try physical therapy. Ultrasound therapy or whirlpool baths can provide relief.

Consider surgery. Surgery generally is not necessary. But if recurring pain interferes with your daily life and other treatments don't help, it's an option.

By Mayo Clinic

This page is updated on May 26, 2013.