There Are Natural Ways to Shrink Foot Bunions — Without Surgery

Bunions can cause uncomfortable symptoms, but there are a few ways you can try to shrink them naturally.


Apr. 2 2024, Published 10:33 a.m. ET

A woman sitting on a couch massaging her bunions
Source: iStock

Everyone deserves to live a pain-free life. But if you're living with bunions, you are likely dealing with pain, and maybe even finding walking uncomfortable. Fortunately, you may be able to shrink bunions naturally with these at-home ideas.

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However, it’s crucial to note that the below tips aren’t medical advice, and you should always consult your doctor if you have any concerns regarding your bunions, aka hallux valgus.

Ease your feet back to their normal appearance to feel comfortable and wear your favorite shoes by trying these ideas, with your doctor's approval.

A woman massaging her foot on a bed
Source: iStock
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Ease your discomfort with bunion cream.

Bunion cream is available over the counter and by prescription. Doctors might prescribe a topical clonidine to numb nerve receptors around or inside the bunion, according to a study in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. When you use the cream as indicated on the packaging or per your doctor’s instructions, the anti-inflammatory ingredients can help reduce the bunion’s size by shrinking the swelling while numbing the pain.

Try bunion stretches.

Research published in the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research in 2023 studied participants who followed daily stretching routines to ease their bunion pain. The study found that all the stretches effectively reduced long-term pain, both with and without the supervision of a physiotherapist.

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The stretches that the study found to be effective for patients with bunions included:

  • Pulling the toes backward to stretch the bunion
  • Leaning the big toes outward repeatedly
  • Spreading the big toes with an exercise band repeatedly
  • Standing on and off their toes quickly multiple times.

Learn more about some of best bunion exercises with visuals by clicking here here, or by watching the below video.

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Try wearing different shoes to relieve hallux valgus pain.

When dealing with bunions, it’s crucial wear proper footwear. People who wear shoes with arch support and extra toe room are 15 times less likely to develop bunions than people who wear high heels or pointed-toe shoes, per a 2023 paper in the International Journal of Product Sound Quality. Consider wearing open-toed shoes or shoes with wider toe boxes that don’t put pressure on your bunions to prevent your pain from increasing, according to Foot & Ankle Surgical Associates.

A woman's hand massaging her bunion toes in bare feet
Source: iStock
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Shrink your bunion with ice packs.

Ice is another commonly understood tool for reducing pain and swelling naturally. Research published in StatPearls looked at participants who applied ice to their bunions, and found that the ice helped reduce their inflammation. Try placing a bag of ice or an ice pack covered in a thin towel against your bunion. Neuhaus Foot & Ankle recommends doing so for a minimum of 10 minutes nightly.

Massage your bunion to reduce your discomfort.

Putting slight pressure on your bunion through massage may relieve some pain, per Gait Happens. Watch the below video for a few hallux valgus massage tips.

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Remember to discuss your bunion pain relief options with your doctor.

People who don’t experience significant pain relief with these options might need to discuss other hallux valgus treatment options with their doctor. Your doctor will better understand if your pain comes from bone displacement with help from an X-ray, and if it does, your doctor may recommend bunion surgery.

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