Yikes! That protrusion at the base of the big toe is a bunion! They are unsightly and can be painful. Bunions result from a deviation in the first metatarsal bone and a build-up of additional bone at the metatarsal head. The “bump” can become inflamed and red (bursitis), and there is often arthritis affiliated within the big toe joint (metatarsal phalangeal joint). Like many other pedal deformities, bunions can be caused by the arch collapsing and the foot being out of alignment. When this occurs, the big toe joint cannot move as freely as needed during the toe-off part of the gait cycle, influencing a bunion’s development. Finding shoes that are pain-free and can accommodate the deformity is a challenge. Pointy, narrow shoes and heredity can also attribute to bunion development.
Here are some natural ways to improve this condition:
- Strengthen the foot with exercises such as toe and heel raises, yoga, and walking barefoot in safe environments.
- When inflamed, soak with Epsom salt and warm water for 20 minute periods.
- Essential oils that can ease the discomfort are wintergreen, deep blue blend, copaiba, and eucalyptus. Use individually or as a blend.
- Choose shoes with a wide toe box.
- Custom orthotics or OTC arch supports. Note : Accommodations to aid the big toe joint can be built into custom orthotics.
- Range of motion exercises. If the big toe has deviated toward the second toe, straighten the big toe out and move it up and down dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. Do this up to 20 times a few times a day.
- Bunion splints can be helpful to wear during the night.
- Earthing. Placing your feet in direct contact with the earth or using an indoor earthing pad. Earthing is a natural way to decrease pain and inflammation.
Avoid wearing pointy shoes. Keep your feet strong by exercising them without shoes on and wear arch supports in shoes. Choose shoes that have a wide toe box and good arch support.