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Posted By Robyn Hughes, ND


The above content is for educational or informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or augment professional medical instruction, diagnosis, or treatment. Read full disclaimer here.

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June 01, 2016
Mary Wright

I am considering surgery for a moderate to severe bunion. The bunion has caused the three toes next to it to become hammertoes. My grandmother and mother had severe bunions. I REALLY do not want to have the surgery, but at this point the pain on the ball of my foot is having too much of an effect on my everyday life. I have had shots and two sets of orthotics and have always worn birkenstocks, so is it possible to treat this naturally? Or is surgery the best option in this case? I have a chiropractor that would be willing to work with me and help me get the toes back in alignment. So, can a natural approach work for this severe a problem?

June 01, 2016
Natural Footgear

Greetings, Mary,

Thank you for your message. I appreciate you reaching out, and I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing bunion- and hammertoe-related pain. I certainly do appreciate your desire to find alternatives to surgery. My first recommendation is to watch this video about conventional vs. natural approaches to bunions:

My second suggestion is to try incorporating Correct Toes ( into your regular foot care routine. Not only does the device help to reverse the effects of bunions, it can also help restore balance, circulation, and overall foot health. Also, you might consider trying out some stretching techniques like the Big Toe Stretch ( to gently guide your toes back into alignment and ease the tension and pain caused by the bunion and conventional footwear.

Third, you might consider seeking out foot-healthy shoes and sandals ( that allow your toes to splay the way nature intended.

In terms of hammertoes (and how to address them using noninvasive methods), the use of metatarsal pads ( in combination with Correct Toes can help rebalance the pull of the toe flexor and extensor tendons and aid in toe rehabilitation. For more information on conventional vs. natural approaches to hammertoes, you can watch this video:

We offer free online courses that cover both bunions and hammertoes, and you can sign up for those courses here:

And finally, even if you opt to go through with surgery, not all hope is lost. Check out this article for more info about how to restore foot health after surgery:

Wishing you all the best in foot health,
Laura Trentman

October 22, 2018

My bunions are on the TOP of my foot, not the side. I’m wondering how to treat that? I’ve had them a long time, but only recently are they getting painful. Wide toe boxes don’t really help much, because it’s the TOP of the shoe hitting my bunions that causes pain.

October 22, 2018
Natural Footgear

Hi, Kathy,

I really appreciate you writing in with your question. It’s very true that a bump or prominence can form on top of the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint, though it’s not technically a bunion in this case. Most of the same approaches that you’d use to address a bunion still apply, however, and that includes restoring proper toe alignment through the use of toe spacers, toe socks, metatarsal pads, and foot-healthy footwear:

As you noted, wide toe boxes alone are not enough. You also need a shoe with a tall toe box, so that you no longer experience the rubbing or contact from the toe box ceiling that is causing discomfort. One tool that could be quite helpful for you is the FootFitter Shoe Stretcher:

You can use this tool to create a pouch in the top of your shoe’s toe box that accommodates the big toe bump.

Another approach you may find helpful is a lacing technique that involves leaving the lower eyelets open (i.e., starting your lacing higher up on your shoe). This creates a bit more room/space in your shoe’s toe box and may help prevent the rubbing that’s causing you pain.

I hope this info helps! If you have any other questions, please do let us know.

Kind regards,
Marty Hughes, DC

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