Most bunions can be helped if you commit to the process. For bunion relief, know the causes of bunions and make a long-term plan for change. This is the goal of the work in my San Antonio natural health clinic and in my Primal Diet – Modern Health podcasts. Fix the cause as well as the symptom!
So, what is a bunion?
A bunion is a bony growth in the lower joint of your big toe. The big toe pushes against the second toe, forcing the joint to stick out. As a weight-bearing joint, this can be extremely painful. Calluses and blisters can form on the edge of the bunion, doubling the pain.
This crippling foot affliction usually gets worse with time. Surgery for bunions can be complicated, expensive, painful and does not guarantee a well-formed foot as the outcome.
Help for Bunions without Surgery
So, where do we start?
First, remove shoes causing foot discomfort
- Women are 10 times more likely than men to have bunions. That desire to “have pretty feet” may lead to narrow pointy shoes, high heels, and shoes a size too small in length and width.
Get ruthless about removing all shoes that hurt. If you’re left with only one pair of ancient sandals, that’s what you’re wearing until you get new shoes…. Put the rest out of sight, and try them again after 6 months in process. Mostly though, they’re history. If they caused this problem once, they’ll cause it again…
Second, get new shoes!
You need footwear with a wide toe box letting toes spread apart with no crowding. Low or no heel is best. I wear 2 kinds of shoes – minimalist barefoot shoes without arch supports, and structured shoes with a wide toe box and some arch support. You may need a size larger and wider than “normal” to accommodate bunion sleeves. No flip-flops or sandals with a strap between the first toes.
I’m a big fan of Jambu and VivoBarefoot. Jambu makes several “barefoot” styles as well as more standard ones. (Zappos has free shipping and returns). Try a bunch of styles and sizes and have fun! Order big and order wide and most importantly look for the wide toe box. No pointy toes! Reading comments from other buyers can be helpful.
I like Rockport Cobb Hill for a structured shoe.
Third, get bunion gel pads and toe correctors
- Correct Toes are terrific. They space your toes apart and can be widened as your toes separate. Order from the Correct Toes website, watch their videos, see how to trim or shim them to fit, and call them with questions. I wear mine when not wearing shoes, with a light sock to help them stay on
- I cannot recommend Yoga Toes. They’re expensive and uncomfortable. I hated them immediately!
- Dr. Scholl’s has a few things. The gel pad that slides over the big toe and keeps it from rubbing your shoe is cheap and helpful. I’ve never worn the splints, as the Correct Toes seem to be doing it for my mild bunion. The bunion tube helps in the beginning if your bunion is more severe.
Fourth, are your bite and jaw part of the problem?
Other than wearing tight pointed shoes, the cause of bunions may not be the feet but the jaw.
- Wait – did I just say the jaw??
Yep, I have several articles and podcasts on the discovery that I had a TMJ problem caused by the lack of Vitamins K2, D and A during fetal development and childhood. As Dr. Weston Price predicted in the 1930’s and 40’s, the shortage of these vitamins from insufficient nutrient-dense food will lead to narrowing of the face and jaw and many other health and structural issues.
A narrow face, jaw and dental arches lead to crowded teeth, bad bite, the need for dental extractions, AND corresponding structural imbalance in hips, back and feet. I’ve been told the skull and jaws form very early in the fetus, and the rest of our structure follows the template made there.
Building a wide face with bigger cheekbones is a priority for children. Read some of my articles about this here and here. Check my online store (with supplements from my clinic shelves) for several sources of Vitamin K2 including this one and this one.
It has been a revelation to see the changes in my anxiety, insomnia, low back pain AND my small bunion as I have worked with a TMJ specialist. Read this article for more and find several others on my website here under TMJ. There’s only a few dentists who really know how to change TMJ properly. Find one!
Fifth, get help with your Posture and Stride
Toes should be in forward alignment with the shin bone, slightly separated and parallel. Not turned in or out. They should not curl under or stick up.
Pronated (turned in) ankles and knees, differential leg length (one longer than the other), forward-thrusting head, and slouching when walking all put stress on the lower body and change the placement of feet. Aim to contact the ground with the heel before rolling forward off the toes.
- Find a posture coach. If your personal trainer is not constantly on you about your walk, your shoulders, your head forward, and your knees, you need a different trainer. Correct posture resolves many structural issues. Uncorrected posture while working weights will cause injury.
- Work on flat feet with your chiropractor, better shoes, and inserts if you must have them
- Other professionals who might take the time to really examine and correct your knees, hips and feet include chiropractors (some of them), Rolfers, and some Airrosti or physical therapists. The trick is getting to the cause of the issue. Is the knee problem really a shoulder problem?? Is it a type of injury causing contractions in the leg or foot?
Finally, reduce inflammation
Inflammation and infection may be both cause and effect of bunions. Either way, we have to get inflammation under control.
- Number one is the Ancestral or Paleo Diet (my “Diet For Human Beings“): Removing grains, dairy, sugars and processed vegetable oils will make fast changes in overall pain and inflammation. Read more on this page on my website for starters. Really, this WILL help with your pain ( as well as your weight and auto-immune antibodies)…
- While regular fish oil is anti-inflammatory, I much prefer this cod liver oil. It’s fresh, unfiltered and has vitamins A and D in it too! You can also find this Rosita Cod Liver oil in gel caps here!
- Herbal anti-inflammatories provide good pain support. Try different combinations to find your best choice. White Willow, Devil’s Claw and Boswellia work well in this one from Biotics Research. Their Kapp-Arrest works well too.
- Topical Arnica such as Traumeel is great for sprains, pain or trauma.
- My online store has high-quality supplements for pain, inflammation, hormones, anxiety and energy.
You don’t have to put up with a deformed foot. Any shoe that causes any crowding is a permanent no-no. Let those toes spread out, and get help learning to walk and stand differently. And don’t forget to get checked for TMJ. Mine was only discovered by accident after a sleep test warned me I had a restricted airway. The shape of my jaw and face, are changing now with help from the right dentist and wearing special retainers night and day. It’s fun watching my toes change as my jaw does….