Bunions are caused by the tissue or bone enlarging at the joint where the big toe meets the foot. This bump can be incredibly tender, and can cause surrounding areas in the foot to also become tender, as well as forcing the next toe over to be turned askew. Doctors do not fully understand the exact cause of bunions, also called hallux valgus, but it is believed to be a combination of a genetic condition and footwear that exacerbates the problem. Although surgery can remove your bunion entirely, you can help slow or stop its growth and alleviate many of the symptoms yourself.
Use orthotic arch supports. Often a bunion forms in response to your body feeling that it needs more support, and in effect struggling to grow a "sixth toe." Arch supports sit inside your shoes and remove much of the stress on the muscles of your foot. Good arch support can often stop bunion growth entirely, and over time may reduce the swelling significantly.
Massage your feet regularly, or see a professional who specialises in foot massage. Over time, the strain of a bunion will cause soft tissue to build up in the affected area, which causes the bunion to grow larger. By massaging the affected area firmly, circulation will increase, swelling will go down somewhat, and less soft tissue will develop.
Change your footwear. Go to a speciality store and ask for assistance finding shoes that fit you properly and give you the support you need. In conjunction with orthotic arch supports, this is often enough to completely stop the growth of bunions. Your podiatrist or orthopedist may also recommend specially designed orthopaedic shoes.
Try ultrasound treatments. Speak with your doctor or physical therapist about whether you are a good candidate for ultrasound therapy directed at the affected area. This is a non-invasive, highly effective form of treatment that can cause your bunion to shrink, and perhaps eliminate it completely without the need for surgery.
Explore alternative therapies. There are homeopathic and acupuncture treatments specifically designed to address bunion growth, pain and tenderness. For example, the homeopathic treatment calcarea phosphorica is used for a number of bone conditions, and may be helpful in treating bone-related bunions.
Ice your feet regularly to alleviate swelling. Do this at least twice a day to see results, especially after activity, such as walking for hours on pavement, that aggravates the bunion.
If all else fails, investigate surgical options. Although they generally require from one to three months to recover completely, they are the most effective way to completely cure your bunions.