Can Bunions Be Treated Naturally or Do I Need Bunion Surgery?

In the previous blog, Is It Really Your Shoes Causing Your Bunions?, we discussed the causes of bunions and if shoes played a role. We concluded by stating if shoes are not fit ideally, then the affects can contribute to bunion development. It is best to start with having shoes professionally fit and then go from there.

However, what about other treatments for bunions?

Some treatments that may help treat bunions are: ice, injections, anti-inflammatories, padding, and “Shoe Inserts” for “Arch Support.”

Do I need bunion surgery? 

There are some who recommend surgery. Some believe surgery is permanent and some do not. Some types may take up to 6 months to a year to heal, but not all.

Surgery is relatively permanent as long as one addresses the mechanics of the foot causing the bunion in the first place. I have heard some tell patients that they do not need inserts after the surgery as they “Fixed” it! Rarely, would this be true. There are many procedures that can be performed that do not take so long to heal as well as with functional orthotics, the condition is resolved for decades.

What about these natural treatments for bunions you hear about?

Some toe spacers, correct toe trainers, or yoga toe trainers claim to re position the foot to a natural alignment. This may help some, but it is not going to address the original cause. These products along with muscle strengthening, have shown to improve balance but not necessarily preventing bunions. Therefore, it is great if it helps but do not expect a huge change if one has a severe bunion deformity. Also, these treatments must be slowly applied in time of use and amount of re-positioning otherwise pain and cramping can occur.

What about massage and trigger release treatments? Yes good, may help but again, not the original cause of the bunion.

Should you transition to minimalist shoes?

This usually does not address the primary cause of the bunion.  Some feet, on a minimalist shoe and hard flat surface can deform the foot significantly enhancing the formation of the bunion (HAV).

In my opinion, the best thing to do is address the footwear and the faulty biomechanics that cause bunion develop. If this is accomplished, you’ll typically reduce or eliminate the bunion pain long term.


David J. Sables, D.P.M., C. Ped.

Former Podiatric Surgeon Specializing in Biomechanical Care.