Shoe Inserts and Orthotics for Bunions: Get Support & Reduce Pain

by Casey Scofield June 08, 2017


Bunion shoe inserts can relieve pain

Choosing the appropriate footwear after bunions develop is crucial for relieving pain. The best types of shoes will provide enough space for your feet to rest comfortably. They will also provide the necessary structure and support to correct the biomechanical issues that initially caused the bunions. Wearing bunion inserts can also reduce your discomfort and prevent your bunions from getting worse.

In this post, we'll walk you through the problems commonly associated with bunions as well as tips for finding bunion support and the best bunion orthotics for you.

What Are Bunions?

A bunion is a bony lump that develops on the joint near the base of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal, or MTP). The joint becomes misaligned, and the big toe is forced against the other toes. As a consequence, a protrusion forms on the inside of your foot at the base of your big toe – a bunion (hallux valgas).

The MTP carries much of your body's weight when walking and running. With so much stress on the joint, a bunion can become very painful if not treated. While bunions most commonly form near the MTP , they sometimes occur on outside of the little toe. This is called a bunionette.

What Causes Bunions?

Bunions are a result of abnormal motion and faulty biomechanics. When the normal balance of forces exerted on the foot is disrupted, the MTP often bears the brunt of instability and increased pressure.

Many women will experience bunions sometime during their lifetime. In fact, more women than men will develop bunions due to the prevalence of high heeled shoes for women.

If your parents developed bunions, it is more likely that you will as well. That isn’t because bunions are genetic. It's because the biomechanics that lead to bunions are genetic. If you wear proper shoes and bunion shoe inserts, you can dramatically decrease the likelihood of developing bunions.

Common Causes of Bunions

The main biomechanical irregularities that cause bunions are:

Apart from biomechanical irregularities, the following issues and conditions can cause bunions:

  • Foot injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Inflammatory joint disease
  • Undue foot stress (ballet dancers often develop bunions)
  • Overuse of shoes that squeeze the toes together and distribute weight abnormally – high heels

The Symptoms of Bunions

If you develop any of the following issues, you might have a bunion:

  • The presence of a firm bump on the inside of your foot at the base of the big toe
  • Redness or swelling in the area
  • Pain around the big toe
  • Restriction of toe movement

Tips for Relieving Pain Caused by Bunions

The right shoes and bunion orthotics can go a long way to help relieve your pain and discomfort. For bunion support, choose shoes that:

  • Are made of a pliable material like leather. If you have a favorite pair of plastic shoes, make sure they are wide enough to accommodate your bunion.
  • Have wide toe boxes. It is important to give your feet – and bunions – the space they need. Cramped toes will result in increased pain.
  • Provide enough space to use bunion shoe inserts.
  • Are less than two-inches tall. Avoid pointy-toed stilettos and very high heels.

A Podiatrist Can Help

If you develop a bunion, you should see a podiatrist. Early detection is key to halting its growth. Podiatrists will try to reduce pressure on the bunion. The podiatrist might recommend home remedies to relieve pain:

  • A non-medicated bunion pad around the bony bump.
  • Repeated icing of the foot.
  • The use of arch-supporting bunion shoe inserts to realign the foot and control pronation.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen.

If these home remedies don't give the comfort you need, your podiatrist might perform the following:

  1. Padding and taping - Padding (like a bunion pad) will relieve pressure. This can allow you to continue in your daily life without pain. Tape will help keep the foot in a normal position.
  2. Medication – Anti-inflammatory drugs or even cortisone injections can reduce pain and inflammation.
  3. Surgery – This is the only “true” cure to eliminate bunions. But most podiatrists won’t recommend it unless the pain is interfering with daily life and normal function. During bunion surgery, a physician will shave down the bony protrusion and realign the toe with a pin. Recovery can take from one to two months. In 10 to 15 percent of the cases, the bunion will come back. This makes surgery a less than perfect option.

Bunion Shoe Inserts are Key to Prevention

The root cause of bunions is improper biomechanics. Most podiatrists and foot experts will recommend some type of insoles to prevent or provide bunion support. Because bunions are associated with flat feet and unstable arches, bunion shoe inserts and orthotics that provide superior arch support will help prevent the development of this painful condition.

Tread Labs' Stride Insoles will correct your biomechanical deficiencies, keep the foot in proper alignment, and reduce the stress on your MTP joints. Don’t wait until you develop the condition to try a pair of arch-supporting insoles in your shoes. If you have flat feet, a family history of bunions, or a job that puts a lot of stress on your feet, get a pair of Stride insoles today. Your feet will thank you.

Shop Our Insoles

Casey Scofield
Casey Scofield

9 Responses

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

September 13, 2018

Hi Lilk,
Insoles that support the arch can help regulate bio mechanical deficiencies which can be the cause of bunions.
Here is an easy method to determine your arch height:

1. Fill your tub with a small layer of water.

2. Take two pieces of cardboard or heavy paper and set them on the floor.

3. Step into the tub with one foot to wet the bottom of your foot.

4. Lift up your foot and step onto one cardboard piece. Put your full weight on that one foot.

5. Step off the cardboard and look down.

Determine your arch height. If you see your entire footprint, you have a LOW arch. If you see half of your arch—like the typical “footprint in the sand” image—you have a MEDIUM (normal) arch. If you see a “C” shaped imprint, you have a HIGH arch. If you see just your heel, the ball of your foot and almost no arch at all you have an EXTRA HIGH arch.
If you have any questions or we can assist in any way please feel free to contact us.


September 13, 2018

Hello. I have a bunion on my right foot. I want to slow its progression. I want your orthotic.
How do I know if I have a low med high extra high arch ? Please let me know lady3 at hotmail dot com Thank You.

Dan- Tread Labs
Dan- Tread Labs

August 02, 2018

Hi Judy,
Tread Labs semi-custom orthotic design will differ in fit and feel from other over the counter insoles. We have consulted with various professionals in the industry to help with the fit and function of our insoles.
Tread Labs insoles can help realign the foot to help with the discomfort associated with bunions.
It sounds like your custom orthotics offered a longer arch support than many over the counter insoles. This may be something we could address for you.
Please give us a call at 781-435-0662 and we can discuss the option available.


August 02, 2018

Hi Dan – I have flat feet and pretty severe and painful bunions and have found that some custom orthotics I had made 20 years ago which probably need to be corrected, still help more than over the counter orthotics simply because the arch area extends more to the front of my foot and lifts the bunion more than the over the counter ones. Do you think your product would help or should I look for new custom product.

Dan-Tread Labs
Dan-Tread Labs

June 01, 2018

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for taking an interest in Tread Labs.

Currently we are just web based, we are working on getting into some retailers but are not there quite yet.

We do offer free shipping, free returns and a 30 day guarantee, which allows you to try the insoles for a month before deciding if you’d like to keep the insoles, exchange them for a different arch height or style, or return them for a full refund.

Please let me know if I can assist in any way.

Thanks again,

jerry shainock
jerry shainock

June 01, 2018

I live in Houston, Texas. where can I buy orthotics for bunions? Thank You, Jerry

Dan, Tread Labs
Dan, Tread Labs

May 01, 2018

Hi Lucinda,
Finding an insole that supports the arch will certainly help with the bunions. There are several over the counter insole that feature arch support, but Tread Labs Semi-Custom insoles allows you to choose the arch height which will be most beneficial to you. Currently we are just web based. We would be happy to help you determine which of our insoles would be right for you. Please give us a call at 781-435-0662 if we can assist with any order.
Tread Labs

Lucinda Gonzalez
Lucinda Gonzalez

May 01, 2018

Just want to know where can I buy insole for my shoes for my bunions

Dr. Charles E. henry
Dr. Charles E. henry

April 25, 2018

I have RA/OA; and my wife nursed for 33 years. Very helpful for both of us. Thank you very much.

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