Bunions (2024)

Bunions are bony lumps that form on the side of the feet. Surgery is the only way to get rid of them, but there are things you can do to ease any pain they cause.

Check if you have bunions

Bunions (1)


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Bunions (2)


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Bunions (3)


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You may also have pain along the side or bottom of your feet. This is usually worse when wearing shoes and walking.

If you're not sure it's a bunion
Foot symptoms and possible causes
Foot symptoms Possible cause

Red, hot, swollen skin over the affected joint that comes and goes


Aching, swollen and stiff joints that are usually worse in the morning


Pain, bruising and swelling after hurting your toe

Broken toe

How to ease bunion pain yourself

You cannot get rid of bunions or stop them getting worse yourself, but there are things you can do to ease any pain.


  • wear wide shoes with a low heel and soft sole

  • hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a tea towel to the bunion for up to 5 minutes at a time

  • try bunion pads (soft pads you put in shoes to stop them rubbing on a bunion) – you can buy these from pharmacies

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen

  • try to lose weight if you're overweight


  • do not wear high heels or tight, pointy shoes

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • pain from a bunion has not improved after trying home treatments for a few weeks
  • the pain is stopping you doing your normal activities
  • your bunions are getting worse
  • you have bunions and diabetes – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes

Treatments for bunions

If you have bunions, a GP will look at your foot and ask you about your symptoms.

They might refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist).

A GP or podiatrist can advise you about:

  • things you can do to ease your symptoms
  • things you can buy or have specially made to reduce bunion pain, such as insoles (orthotics), toe spacers and toe supports (splints)

You can also pay to see a foot specialist privately.


A GP may refer you for surgery if your bunions are very painful or they're having a big effect on your life.

Surgery is not done just to improve how your feet look.

What happens during bunion surgery

The most common surgery for bunions is an osteotomy.

This involves:

  1. Making a small cut in the skin over your big toe.
  2. Cutting or scraping away the bunion.
  3. Straightening your toe bone.
  4. Fixing your toe bone in place with metal screws or staples put under your skin. These are often left in permanently.

Surgery is usually done when you're asleep under general anaesthetic.

Most people go home the same day.

It can take a while to recover from bunion surgery.

You'll usually need to:

  • rest and keep your feet raised as much as possible for at least 2 weeks
  • avoid driving for 6 to 8 weeks
  • stay off work for 2 to 12 weeks
  • avoid sports for 3 to 6 months

After the operation:

  • your toes might be weaker or stiffer than before
  • your toes may not be perfectly straight
  • your feet may still be painful

Bunions sometimes come back after surgery.


Self-refer to a podiatrist

If you have bunions, you might be able to refer yourself directly to a podiatrist without seeing a GP.

To find out if there are any services in your area:

  • ask the reception staff at your GP surgery
  • check your GP surgery's website
  • contact your integrated care board (ICB) – find your local ICB
  • search online for NHS podiatrists near you

How to prevent bunions

The cause of bunions is not always known, but you may be more likely to get them if you wear shoes that do not fit properly.

It might help to:

  • make sure your shoes are the correct size and have enough room for your toes
  • avoid shoes with high heels or pointy toes

Page last reviewed: 12 June 2023
Next review due: 12 June 2026

Bunions (2024)


Is there a bunion corrector that actually works? ›

Unfortunately, there is no medical research or data to support the claim that bunion correctors straighten the big toe. If your bunions are pretty severe, no plastic or elastic device is going to correct them. However, these correctors and splints may provide some pain relief to the big toe.

How can I shrink my bunions naturally? ›

  1. Massage and Exercise Your Feet. One of the simplest ways to treat your bunions without surgery is to, in fact, exercise your feet. ...
  2. Take a Paracetamol. ...
  3. Soak Your Feet in a Foot Bath. ...
  4. Ice Your Feet. ...
  5. Put Your Feet Up! ...
  6. Try Castor Oil. ...
  7. Try Bunion Pads. ...
  8. Try Bunion Splints.
Jul 20, 2022

Can anything be done about bunions? ›

Surgery is the only way to get rid of them, but there are things you can do to ease any pain they cause.

What are the 5 stages of a bunion? ›

There are different stages of a bunion which are shown below: A – Grade 1 (no deformity); B – grade 2 (mild deformity); C – grade 3 (moderate deformity); D – grade 4 (severe deformity). Conservative options have been reported across the literature with mixed results.

Can you really correct a bunion without surgery? ›

In most cases, bunions can be treated nonsurgically. One of the podiatrists from our team can examine your bunion(s) and recommend a conservative treatment which includes one or more of the following: Custom shoe orthotics (inserts) that relieve pressure on the joint and align your weight in a more beneficial way.

How can I straighten my bunions without surgery? ›

Other tips for bunion relief
  1. Wear well-fitting, comfortable footwear that provide sufficient toe room.
  2. Avoid flip-flops, high heels, and pointed, narrow, or tight shoes.
  3. Use padded shoe inserts to enhance comfort, alignment, and arch support.
  4. Wear a brace to hold the toe straight.
Aug 5, 2021

Is walking barefoot good for bunions? ›

Going barefoot is ideal in the beginning stages of bunions. When barefoot, the joints of the toes will get stronger, an important part of good foot health.

Do toe separators work for bunions? ›

While the scientific evidence supporting the use of toe spacers for bunions is limited, many people report experiencing relief from their bunion symptoms when using these devices. While toe spacers may not be a cure for bunions, they can potentially provide some relief for those suffering from this painful condition.

How to stop a bunion from growing? ›

Bunion prevention and management: 5 things to start doing
  1. Make sure your shoes are the right size and fit. ...
  2. Avoid wearing high heels every day (or retire them altogether) ...
  3. Rest your feet. ...
  4. Do bunion stretches and exercises to strengthen your feet. ...
  5. Monitor your feet for changes.

What is the main cause of bunions? ›

Bunions are usually caused by prolonged pressure put on the feet that compresses the big toe and pushes it toward the second toe. Over time, the condition may become painful as extra bone grows where the base of the big toe meets the foot.

Is it OK to live with bunions? ›

With appropriate shoes, bunions can remain stable and may not limit your activity level. The primary indication for surgical treatment of a bunion is pain. If you are having pain that limits your ability to wear most shoes and limits your activities, you may consider surgical correction of your bunion.

What is the best bunion corrector? ›

Selected. Our top picks
  • Best bunion corrector. Caretras Bunion Corrector. $undefined. $24.99. Amazon. ...
  • Best toe spacer. Zentoes Gel Toe Separators. $undefined. $12.99. Amazon. ...
  • Best OTC pain relief. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Gel. $undefined. $38.48. Sam's Club. ...
  • Best wide box shoe. Nike Motiva Walking Shoe. $undefined. $119.99.
Apr 9, 2024

What is the average age for bunions? ›

More than 20% of men and women ages 18-65 have bunions, and more than 35% of men and women over age 65 have these toe deformities. Along with age, there are several other factors that can make it more likely you'll develop bunions. If you have a bunion, Premier Podiatry can get rid of it.

Do bunions get worse as you age? ›

Bunions develop gradually over time. Without the right care, like changing your footwear or using orthotics, bunions can get worse over time. As a person gets older and ages or gains weight, our feet spread and that worsens the problems already in place or triggers the development of bunions.

What is considered a severe bunion? ›

In severe bunions, the big toe may angle all the way under or over the second toe. Pressure from the big toe may force the second toe out of alignment, causing it to come in contact with the third toe. This can result in hammer toe deformities of the smaller toes.

What is the best bunion corrector on the market? ›

Caretras Bunion Corrector

If you're looking to help temporarily realign your bunion, consider using this corrector recommended by Sharkey. It helps relieve discomfort, pressure, and inflammation by constantly applying gentle pressure when on.

How to get rid of a bunion on a big toe? ›

The most common bunion treatments include:
  1. Footwear changes: Switching to shoes with wide, deep toe boxes can take pressure off your toes. ...
  2. Bunion pads and taping: Over-the-counter (OTC) bunion pads cushion the area around a bunion to relieve pressure. ...
  3. Orthotic devices: Orthotics are shoe inserts that support your feet.

How long does it take to see results from bunion corrector? ›

This means that bunion correctors are going to need a longer time to help. You are going to need to persist with them for months to get any good affect. There is not going to be an overnight improvement. Persistence is the key here.


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