Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your bunion and the amount of pain it causes.

Conservative treatment

Nonsurgical treatments that may relieve the pain and pressure of a bunion include:

  • Changing shoes. Wear roomy, comfortable shoes that provide plenty of space for your toes.
  • Padding and taping or splinting. Your doctor can help you tape and pad your foot in a normal position. This can reduce stress on the bunion and alleviate your pain.
  • Medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve) can help you control the pain of a bunion. Cortisone injections also can be helpful.
  • Shoe inserts. Padded shoe inserts can help distribute pressure evenly when you move your feet, reducing your symptoms and preventing your bunion from getting worse. Over-the-counter arch supports can provide relief for some people, although others may require prescription orthotic devices.
  • Applying ice. Icing your bunion after you've been on your feet too long can help relieve soreness and inflammation.

Surgical options

If conservative treatment doesn't provide relief from your symptoms, you may need surgery. The goal of bunion surgery is to relieve discomfort by returning your toe to the correct position.

There are a number of surgical procedures for bunions, and no one technique is best for every problem.

Surgical procedures for bunions might involve:

  • Removing the swollen tissue from around your big toe joint
  • Straightening your big toe by removing part of the bone
  • Realigning the long bone between the back part of your foot and your big toe, to straighten out the abnormal angle in your big toe joint
  • Joining the bones of your affected joint permanently

It's possible you may be able to walk on your foot immediately after a bunion procedure. However, full recovery can take weeks to months. To prevent a recurrence, you'll need to wear proper shoes after recovery. It's unlikely that you'll be able to wear narrower shoes after surgery.

Surgery isn't recommended unless a bunion causes you frequent pain or interferes with your daily activities. Talk to your doctor about what you can expect after bunion surgery.

Feb. 11, 2014

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