Big Toe Joint, Hammer Toe & Bunionette Problems:
Can Bunions be Reversed Without Surgery? [Best Home Treatment]
Can Bunions be Reversed without Surgery? Bunions can be reversed if they are only caused by a soft tissue deformity and not by a bone deformity. Learn How!
- Big toe joint pain can be improved with a few simple treatment changes.
- We are foot doctors & we see this problem get better almost every day.
- The goal is to solve this problem without medication or surgery if at all possible.
So, let’s GO!
Table of Contents
Bunion Pictures & Photo Gallery:
- The associated photos are pictures of bunions.
- A big toe joint bunion is a prominence of the first metatarsal phalangeal joint.
- A tailor’s bunion is the prominence of the fifth metatarsal phalangeal joint.
- There are multiple stages of bunions ranging from minimal dislocation to severe dislocation to severe dislocation with arthritis.
- It is important to note that the sesamoid bones dislocate from the big toe joint and that the bunion itself is more of a dislocation injury than an arthritic injury.
- Although we frequently see bunions that also have arthritis, and is much more likely.
- We do perform minimally invasive bunion surgery at our clinic to limit the length of recovery time needed.
Please click on the gallery to read the description! Feel free to share pictures.
Causes of Big Toe Joint Pain:
- A bunion is the beginning of the dislocation of the big toe joint.
- The official term is subluxation, this is when the first metatarsal phalangeal joint starts to come out of the joint.
- This usually means the big toe joint is starting to point towards the second toe, this forces the second toe to rise over the big toe if it gets bad enough.
- This can contribute to forming a second toe hammer toe, as well as making the second, third, fourth, and fifth toes spread towards the outside of the foot.
- You can also develop a bunion to your fifth toe, this is called a tailor’s bunion, or a tailor’s bunionette.
- A turf toe injury is the hyperextension of the first metatarsal phalangeal joint, also known as a big toe joint sprain.
- There are many tendons and ligaments and bones on the bottom of your big toe joint.
- If you strain the tendons and ligaments, these can take many weeks or many months to heal.
- If you ever watch professional football, or soccer, this is a very common sports injury when the big toe plants into the ground and all your body weight transfers over.
- There are two bones underneath your big toe joint called your sesamoids bones. These are the tibial sesamoid and the fibular sesamoid.
- If the big toe joint becomes disrupted, such as in a bunion these can become dislocated sesamoids.
- In sports such as basketball where there is a lot of pressure put on the big toe joint, this can lead to inflammation of the sesamoid bones. This is called the sesamoiditis.
- If your sesamoiditis gets really bad, it is also possible to get a broken sesamoid, or sesamoid fracture.
- It can be a good idea to see a podiatrist if you do have a broken or fractured sesamoid bone.
- Arthritis means that the cartilage is missing from your joint, this then prevents normal joint motion. Eventually as the damage keeps getting worse, the bone starts to crack, cause severe pain and eventually develop bone spurs and uneven bone at the site.
- In your big toe joint when you start to lose some motion, this is called hallux limitus. Eventually this starts to lose complete motion and this is now called hallux rigidus. This means that your big toe joint is rigid and unable to move.
- There are four stages to hallux rigidus,progressing from no arthritis to complete fused arthritis.
- Hallux rigidus and big toe joint arthritis essentially mean the same thing.
- This is a very common problem that we see especially in people who are on their feet all day, or have broken their toe in the past.
- Flat feet can be caused by many different things, and flat feet result in many different problems.
- The more your foot flattens, the more abnormal pressure is put onto your big toe joint. This can lead to abnormal pressure causing a dislocation also known as a bunion, or jamming of the cartilage which can lead to big toe joint arthritis or hallux rigidus.
- Flat fee are very complicated topic, as you can have a bunion in a high arched foot as well, but generally it is the act of over pronation that causes your big toe joint to receive pressure and become agitated.
- Controlling flat fee with more support has more pros than cons for sure.
Bunion Treatment Overview:
- Can Bunions be Reversed without Surgery?
- Bunions can be reversed if they are only caused by a soft tissue deformity and not by a bone deformity.
- What this means is that some bunions are a result of tight skin and ligaments.
- Whereas some people actually have crooked and bent bones that can only be fixed with surgery.
Can Bunions be Reversed without Surgery?
- If they are due to soft tissue.
- Correcting your shoes can help.
- Getting an insert can help.
- Getting a splint can help.
- More difficult if it is rigid and you can’t bend it back by hand.
When is due to soft tissue that can be reversed?
- The bunion initially develops as a soft tissue deformity when you start to walk improperly in high heels, with flat feet or over time as you put on weight and get older.
- The ligaments slowly stretch over the years and the bunion buckles outward; as the years go on the bone itself also begins to deform and at this point osteoarthritis develops, you start to lose big toe joint motion and it is too late to reverse it without surgery.
How Can I tell if I need surgery or not?
- A good first step is to try and move your big toe up and down all the way to the bottom and all the way to the top.
- If you are in pain and it hurts, you hear a crunchy grinding type noise this means that you have osteoarthritis at this point and there is nothing that can really be done at this point but surgery or living with it.
- If the big toe has really good motion up or down then it odds are in your favor that this problem can be corrected without surgery.
What is a bunion?
- A bunion is something called hallux valgus, but that’s just the medical name, bunion, is the bump that you feel when the bone or the soft tissue at the joint. Essentially dislocate out of place.
- The most common cause of a bunion or hallux valgus is abnormal motion pressure on the joint forces the big toe tube and buckle out away from your other toes, this makes it look like you have extra bone growing, but it’s actually just dislocation of the joint.
- Think of it as your knees buckling in, kind of like being knocked need.
- The reason bunions are so important is that your big toe joint, also called your first metatarsal phalangeal joint carries about 50% of the weight your foot loads. That’s a lot of weight! So bunions can cause severe and constant pain to the site.
Are bad shoes or high heels to blame?
- Studies do show that bunions often can run in families, so you probably did get some of it from your mother or your father. We usually see that some kids have a pretty big bunion, and their parents walk in and have the exact same bunion.
- Women are much more likely to develop bunions and then men can, especially as you get older, and especially after those women have children. Next paragraph. So blame your kids for your big, bad bunion!
- The more flexible you are, the more likely you are tolerate your bunion. The heavier you are the more likely your bunion is to develop arthritis and significant pain through the site. For example, someone who weighs 300 pounds going to have a lot more bunion pain than someone who weighs 120 pounds.
Who should I see from a bunion pain?
- There are two specialties that deal with bunion pain. And sometimes this can be very confusing, you can deal with a podiatrist or an orthopedic surgeon.
- A podiatrist is trained specifically in the foot and ankle were is an orthopedic surgeon strained in five years of whole body surgery, and then some of them can do one year of foot surgery.
Treatment of bunions without surgery:
- Most studies do show that bunions are permanent unless corrected surgically. This is a very difficult factor, except for some people, and some people read some of the online stuff in Dubai some product attempting at their bunion better.
- Believe us, if we had a nonsurgical solution. We would be billionaires living on an island, we would love nothing more than to avoid surgery and get you feeling better. Thus read this guide. Because these things can help make your pain go away.
- This is the most important thing you have to realize is bunions can feel better, but they will not get completely better without surgery. But is your goal to have a straight joint? Or to have zero pain in your foot. If you’re okay having no pain in your foot. Then you can leave your bunion non-surgically treated, and you will for sure get better doing some of these tricks.
The top seven guide to making bunions feel better without surgery:
Get a bunion gel pad:
- Bunion gel pads are great. I give these to almost all my patients who do not want to pursue surgical therapy.
- These prevent the second toe from rubbing up against the big toe, and they prevent your big toe joint bump from her minions the shoe.
- Bunion gel pads work amazing.
- One of the downsides of bunion gel pads? The downsides of bunion gel pads are the fact that they get really sweaty, disgusting and start to smell bad pretty quickly.
- So you probably need a lot of them, and you always have to put them on.
Orthotics for bunion pain:
- Bunions are due to improper biomechanics. We can pretty much guarantee that you will feel better if you get the right orthotic and the right support for your foot. This is proven over and over by science.
- Yes, is it possible to get a bad orthotic? Absolutely, it is possible, people know flexibility can get to Hardeman insert, and people who weigh 400 pounds will not benefit from a pretty flat insert.
- This is where podiatrist can come in handy. But most of the time a good over-the-counter insert will work better than nothing.
A night splint or stretch splint:
- This may or may not be for you, it is best to check with your podiatrist the CFS stretch splint or night splint will even help you. If you have a really tight Achilles tendon than this can be an amazing device.
- Take anti-inflammatory pills:
- Yes ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs can help. Do we recommend this? Probably not, because it’s a temporary solution, not a permanent solution.
Pain control devices:
- Things that can help control your pain are soaking your foot in a warm foot bath, ice packs, foot baths with massaging jets, ultrasound, and having your husband or wife massage her feet.
- The massage may help your feet. But it’s going to probably hurt your marriage.
- This is one you hate me for even saying, but losing weight is the single most important thing in preventing a bunion.
- Realistically you know in your mind that hundred pound person is going to have less bunion pain than a 300 pound person. We all already know this is just hard to do.
Good Shoes for Bunions:
- Get yourself a great pair shoes. If you have MS shoe where your bunion is running, essentially all of your pain will go away.
- This can be a very deep topic that we could talk about all day, but the bottom line is, simply get good soft shoe where your bunion is. Make sure it’s wide enough.
- Make sure there’s enough room to put your bunion gel pad, and make sure he has enough room for orthotics.
So can you reverse a bunion without surgery?
The short answer is you can’t reverse it. You have to think about a bunion kind of like bad vision, you’re always going to need a pair of contacts or glasses. Once you take them off then your bunion will be still there.
Think of bunion surgery. Kind of like corrective laser eye surgery. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Some people are under corrected some people still have pain in the future, but this is the only proven way to repair of bunion.
Reversal of Bunions without Surgery Treatment Guide
Visit our our Complete Bunion Treatment Guide to find out how to reverse your bunion without surgery. This guide is developed based on the leading scientific literature and podiatrist or foot doctor guidelines.
- This is not something that we would recommend doing at home, but a doctor can help you with this.
- If you do have severe pain that is really preventing you from doing anything, this may be an option in the right circumstances.
- Anti-inflammatory medications could be good, but we do not recommend this as a long-term solution.
- Focus on the orthotics in the shoes.
When is surgery a good option? Probably only 10% of the time!
- If you have tried all the above stuff, and a couple months have gone by and you have not started to improve at all, then further and imaging like an ultrasound, x-ray or MRI might make sense.
- If you have long-term permanent damage to the nerve, especially if it has been going on for over 6 to 12 months, then you may need surgery.
- Bunion surgery has its benefits, but any type of surgery may have its negatives.
- Make sure to check with a podiatrist to see if you qualify. You may be one of the 10% for whom it may be a great idea!
For more on Can Bunions be Reversed without Surgery?
And Remember… Get Great Shoes!
Big Toe Joint Injury or Surgery Treatment:
- If you think you might have a severe turf toe, a severe tear or sprain, a broken big toe joint or broken big toe, or you have just had surgery: this guide may be able to help you!
- Just make sure to check with your podiatrist because a severe injury will require imaging, biomechanical evaluation, and a good discussion to prevent anything from going more wrong.
- For surgery, purposes make sure to discuss with your podiatrist To see what is recommended, as every surgery is unique, and there are pros and cons to all treatment methods.
Big Toe Joint Fracture, Sprain, or Surgery Products:
- If you have a traumatic injury such as a broken bone or ligament tear, these products may be able to help you.
- The best way to do this is, of course, to see your podiatrist and get evaluated with an x-ray, ultrasound, and potentially even an MRI or CT scan.
- If you cannot do so, it may benefit you to be in a cast, fractured boot, or even keep the weight off of it with a rolling knee scooter or other protective devices.
- We as podiatrists frequently take patients off work for a very long period of time when they suffer a traumatic injury. Unfortunately, there is no other way around us in labor jobs.
- If you have a sit-down job, there are ways to get people back to work quicker, but this can be impossible otherwise.
- Just remember these injuries can take a very long time, specifically 2 to 3 months or more, to come back from if you’re going to be on your feet all day. There is a long recovery time and healing time in most cases.
Big Toe Joint Injury & Surgery Immobilization:
- There are pros and cons to using a boot to treat your big toe joint injury. If you are immobilized too long, the cons are that you will gradually become stiff and overworked to your other leg.
- The Pros are that your injured heel will hopefully have a chance to heal gradually!
- Our favorite fracture boots and their supplies:
Big Toe Arthritis and Hallux Rigidus:
- One of the best treatment options for a stiff big toe is a stiff orthotic.
- The big toe can become arthritic, and what causes the pain is the bone grinding on a joint that cannot move.
- Getting a rigid carbon insole can make a huge difference in preventing the bend of the big toe joint.
- Out of the big toe joint products in the next table, the carbon insole is worth looking at for relieving the big toe joint bed.
- A good over-the-counter orthotic can provide a similar result, and we would otherwise prefer those.
Offloading and Scooter Treatment:
- If you cannot use your foot, it needs to be immobilized: we have found success with offloading the scooters in these products.
- Crutches can be difficult long term, whereas scooters can really help you get around and to work if you have a sit-down job in this been okay-ed with your podiatrist.
- These are our favorite knee scooters and walking devices:
Best Big Toe Joint Products:
- There are usually two phases to treating big toe joint pain
- The two phases of treatment include controlling the acute inflammation with protection and correcting the biomechanics, which led to the problem in the first place.
- If the tendons, joints, and ligaments are inflamed, they are almost frozen in place and cannot function properly.
- Inflammation can mean damage as well, in this most likely needs to be protected as the big toe joint heavily relies upon the weight-bearing joint. So consider discussing with your podiatrist the need for and offloading surgical shoes or boots.
- Once the inflammation is decreased, we need to correct the biomechanical causes to ensure that they can never become overworked and inflamed again!
- The key with an injury or surgery is to keep it protected initially, and when the bone and tendon heels, to get moving before stiffness can set in.
Best Bunion Specific Products:
- There are no perfect bunion treatment products.
- Most people end up disappointed after spending a lot of money on bunion pads, bunion gel pads, expensive bunion correctors, and bunion splints!
- The truth is a bunion is a biomechanical injury. The foot is flattening out, and the ankle is flattening out, causing the pain.
- Having a gel pad on the big toe has very little chance of fixing the deformity, although it can stop the rubbing and relieve a lot of the pain.
- This is why people sometimes wear splints and correctors. It holds the toe straighter so that the tissue and were’s and have left pain.
Big Toe Joint Inflammation Control:
Massage & Ice Products:
- Ice is an excellent option that can be safe for almost everyone.
- There is some debate about whether icing is worth doing, but this can help limit the need for medications and keep your options open for chronic pain.
- This works great for your arch, less for the ball of the foot.
- The more muscle and ligament tissue there is, the better ice will work there.
Menthol Based Gels:
- Biofreeze is one of our favorites.
- This can work well as a cream or gel option for your big toe joint pain.
- These gels have been studied to work 2x as long as ice.
- This works great for the ball of the foot.
- This can be very effective for the bottom of the heel and Achilles tendon sore regions.
- These can work great for loosening your muscles.
- This is not to be used directly onto your foot but to help take pressure off the foot’s front.
- This allows less tightness and pressure on the ball of your foot.
- This is very effective for the arch, the gastrocnemius, calf muscle, and the hamstring and thigh muscles.
- This also works very well for the gluteus muscles if you are having butt cheek or hip pain.
Remove the Big Toe Joint Pressure:
- The key is to prevent future pain and to keep pressure off of the big toe joint.
- This means keeping you active while keeping stress off of your big toe joint. This will prevent future bunions, sesamoiditis, turf toe, and even big toe joint arthritis!
- If you can get rid of the pain and swelling, this will let you start walking normally.
- If you can walk normally, the vast majority of your pain should gradually start to go away.
- The best way to ensure that your big toe joint, hammertoes, and foot and ankle ligaments are not overworked is to support them.
- The best way to support them is to use great orthotics and great shoes.
- Some people may also need to rely on supportive ankle braces and other supportive modalities.
Best Big Toe Joint & Flat Foot Shoes:
- Getting a great supportive pair of shoes will make sure that there is no further pressure onto the ball of your foot and the big toe joint region.
- This is especially important if you have plantar fasciitis, heel spur pain, or Achilles tendonitis.
- Consider shoes combined with a good supportive orthotic for the best pain relief!
- We have found shoes and orthotics to be one of the most effective ways to reduce bunion and hammertoe pain.
- The following link will show you what our favorites are.
Best Big Toe Joint & Flat Foot Orthotics:
- These are our recommended orthotics for offloading the big toe joint.
- Custom orthotics can work very well, but they should not be the first line of treatment. Custom orthotics can cost a lot of money, over the counter orthotics can be a great introduction to foot control and prevent pronation.
- There are different types of orthotics for different types of shoes.
- Women’s shoes usually need a less bulky orthotic but allow for less correction of your big toe joint and ball of the foot pain.
- A full-length orthotic requires a running shoe, boot, or comfortable walking/dress shoe.
- We recommend doing everything you can to get a good supportive shoe that can fit a full-length orthotic. This will get you the best results for your bunion, hammertoes, and bunionette.
- This is the best way to maximize your orthotics for great results.
Best Full-Length Orthotics:
- These will only work in wider shoes or a good supportive running shoe.
- This will not work in sandals, flats, or most women’s dress shoes.
Best Dress Shoe Orthotics:
- These are a great choice for dress orthotics.
Best 3/4 Length Orthotics:
- These are great options for women’s dress shoes and thinner shoes.
- These are not the most supportive pair of orthotics.
Get A Great Dynamic Stretch:
- The goal of getting a great stretch is to improve your ankle flexibility and prevent ball of the foot pain and big toe joint pressure.
- It is possible to stretch on your own, but these products can also really help!
- This will take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- We personally prefer this method of stretching.
Get A Great Static Stretch:
- These devices are great for stretching while you are resting.
- This will also help take pressure off of the ball of your foot.
- This works great for plantar fasciitis but can also make your ankle more flexible in removing pressure from the ball of your foot!
- It can be used while watching TV or at night time.
Best Bunion Relief Infographic:
Big Toe Joint, Hammer Toe & Bunionette Problems: