One of the most common questions asked in the treatment of bunions is “Can I shrink my bunions naturally?”
For a long time, the belief has been that bunion surgery is the only effective method of removing a bunion. Despite this, bunion surgery is not the magic answer it appears to be. Bunion surgery can be expensive and is generally a painful procedure, with significant swelling and increased recovery time required. Recent research has also shown that surgical outcomes can be poor, with over 30% of bunion surgeries considered unsuccessful by patients.
It is well proven that you can treat a bunion naturally, whether they ‘shrink’ in size depends on a couple of factors. Let’s dive into this and see if you can effectively shrink or reduce the size of your bunion.
What causes a bunion?
Bunion is a broad term that describes a number of different conditions that affect the 1st MTPJ or the big toe joint. The factors that determine whether you can reduce the size of the bunion depend upon how much of your bunion is made up of bony growth vs how much is made up of a deviation of the big toe.
In many cases the bump that is associated with a bunion is made up of a deviation of the big toe that pokes out, this then has a soft tissue swelling that adds to the ‘bump’ on the side of the toe. If your bunion is actually caused more by deviation and swelling than by a significant growth of bone, then there are very effective treatment methods that can be utilised without you having to consider surgery.
Traditional methods of treating a bunion
1. Bunion Correctors or Splints
Bunion splints or bunion correctors work by straightening the toe and holding it in place. The splints may appear to work while you have them on and may even feel good, but your toe does not stay that way after you remove them. The bunion is caused by something happening further back in your foot, which is why a bunion splint will NOT ‘cure’ or ‘fix’ your bunion. Despite these being widely advertised, bunion correctors are only effective while you are wearing them, they don’t address the underlying cause and as such don’t achieve lasting relief.
Orthotics are frequently prescribed for bunion treatment. Their mechanism is similar to the bunion corrector, acting to hold the foot or toe in place to relieve pressure. Like the bunion splint, realignment of the foot only occurs while the device is in use. Orthotics are also expensive and require ongoing management and updated prescriptions to continue to treat your feet.
3. Bunion Surgery
Bunion surgery is considered to be the most effective method of bunion removal, however even minimally invasive bunion surgery is painful with significant recovery time involved. Studies show that over 30% of bunion surgeries are considered unsuccessful by the patient and there is no guarantee that a bunion will not return as the surgery doesn’t address the reason the bunion occurred in the first place. There are also a number of ways bunion surgery can be ineffective including nerve entrapment, under or over correction, infection and prolonged swelling and DVT.
Is there a way to reduce bunions naturally?
1. Foot Mobilisation Therapy
Foot mobilisation Therapy (FMT) is a hands-on treatment, that aims to straighten the deviation in the big toe through gentle and steady realignment therapy. This helps strengthen the big toe, the joint, and the muscles in and around that area of the foot.
FMT is especially effective because it not only treats the bunion, but through strengthening the muscles in the foot, helps to avoid the need for bunion surgery.
Benefits of foot mobilisation
- It’s a gentle approach, with significantly less pain or impact on day to day activity than bunion surgery.
- Unlike surgery or orthotics, FMT doesn’t require you to change your footwear or activities that you enjoy so it has far less limitation on your lifestyle
- FMT doesn’t require recovery time. The exercise and hands-on manipulation are completed over a series of sessions, with some quick at-home exercise to perform between sessions. Because the process is gentle and gradual, no recovery time is required between sessions
- It improves the function of the foot that caused the bunion in the first place. Your core walking and running patterns change as your foot strengthens which has a positive effect.
- The pic above is from a published studyJEDYNAK, T. 2009. Treating hallux abducto valgus conservatively through foot mobilisation techniques and exercise therapy. A case study. Podiatry Now, October, 12-15.
2. Home Exercises
Podiatry exercises, completed in a short amount of time at home, can be used to compliment a course of foot mobilisation therapy. The exercises target some of the larger muscles of the foot strengthening them in order to help to support the affected toe and surrounding tissues. This allows the area to heal and realign naturally, with long term results.
What if the bunion is bone?
If the bump that makes up your bunion is bone then the only true way to remove that lump is via surgery. Despite is popularity as a suggested treatment option, a surgical approach shouldn’t be recommended until confirmation that the issue causing you bunion cannot be resolved with foot mobilisation and physical therapy.
Our Bunion Treatment Process
At Sydney Foot Solutions, Foot Mobilisation Therapy is our speciality and we have successfully treated thousands of patients, helping them avoid bunion surgery.
We offer an initial Bunion Assessment, where we run through a series of examination and evaluation to determine the cause and condition of your bunion and assess the best treatment options for bunion treatment or correction.
New Patient Special Offer:
Normally valued at a total of $100 but for a limited time only $35 dollars. (65% off!)