When bunions first start to develop, they're not always that painful. However, if you do little to nothing to treat your bunions and prevent them from becoming worse, there will come a time when they cause you substantial pain. If you're in this situation, follow these steps to get the pain under control and hopefully prevent your bunions from becoming much worse.

Step 1: Make sure you're wearing the right shoes.

If you're walking around in heels all day, of course your bunions are going to hurt! Heels put increased pressure on the ball of your foot, which will only serve to push that last toe further out of proper alignment. Switch to flats with a wide toe box to eliminate pressure on your bunion. If you exercise regularly, you may also wish to buy gym shoes in a wider size to accommodate your bunions more comfortably.

Step 2: Adopt a bunion-soothing routine at the end of the day.

Even in the right shoes, your feet are likely to be sore at the end of a long day, especially if you spend a lot of time standing. Get in the habit of soaking your feet in an Epsom salt bath each day when you arrive home from work. To make the bath, just toss a handful of Epsom salts into a foot tub of warm water. Soak your feet for about 20 minutes as you send off a few last emails or play a game on your phone. The salts will ease the soreness, both internal and external, so you can have a pleasant evening instead of dwelling on your foot pain.

Step 3: Try self-massage.

You can do this after your soaking session, or partway through the day if your bunions start acting up. Grasp the affected area between your thumb and forefinger, and rub in small circles. Apply firm pressure – it should feel a bit uncomfortable if you're doing it right. This will loosen the muscles in the area, so your foot feels looser and less painful.

Step 4: See a podiatrist.

For some people, following the steps above gets bunion pain under control, allowing them to live pretty comfortably with their bunions. For others with more severe bunions, however, the steps above are more of a temporary fix. If you're experiencing pain in spite of wearing the right shoes, doing your foot soaks, and massaging your bunions, then it's time to see a podiatrist, such as the Center for Foot Care. Bunion surgery, though it may sound like a drastic measure, is actually quite common and straightforward. Even if you don't elect to have surgery, your podiatrist may recommend specialized orthotics or specific exercises that are tailored to your unique bunion problem.