Bunions are a pain in the foot, but there are ways to alleviate discomfort

If you have bunions, you're likely familiar with the redness, pain, inflammation and tenderness they can cause. While the discomfort can be enough to have you considering bunion surgery, you should know that the operation can sometimes lead to further pain, in addition to other risks that come along with invasive procedures.

In order to obtain immediate relief, you may want to consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or aspirin. These medications may help to reduce discomfort and can also alleviate redness and swelling. Topical pain relievers may also help treat the condition locally, which may be especially helpful to people who like to avoid drugs.

For temporary relief following a particularly strenuous day, you may want to try icing your bunions or hammer toe. This can feel really good on sore, inflamed bunions, helping to bring down swelling and dulling any pain or tenderness.

However, these treatments will likely only be effective for a few hours at a time. As a result, you should take into consideration the type of footwear you're sporting on a daily basis, since it may be exacerbating bunion pain.

Take high heels, for example. The elevated heel and narrow toe box is a surefire way to rub bunions the wrong way, literally. If the towering footwear is a must for you, consider carrying a pair of flats in your bag to slip on when discomfort gets intense. Otherwise, search for a pair of shoes with a wide toe box, like a loafer, clog or boat shoe, that will give your toes ample room. You should also try to keep heel height to a maximum of 2.5 inches for comfort and stability.

If you've chosen the right footwear and still feel rubbing against your bunions, consider using gel pads or moleskin directly on the affected area. This will provide a barrier between your sore spots and the interior of your shoe.

Last, but certainly not least, consider using bunion splints or orthotics to get to the root of the problem. The devices work by supporting the foot where it needs it, distributing even pressure on the forefoot and holding the joint of the big toe in place.