Written By: Chloe Wilson BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Reviewed By: FPE Medical Review Board
A bunion splint is a really simple tool for reducing the pain associated with bunions, aka hallux valgus and can even help prevent or delay the need for surgery.
There are loads of different styles of bunion splint available depending on what you are looking for and here we will look at each one.
Bunion splints essentially work in one of two ways, some combining both. Firstly, they can help correct the deformity at the toe, bringing it back into a normal position. This prevents stiffness and tightness developing in the joint and surrounding soft tissues, relieving symptoms and helping to stop the progression of the toe deviation.
Secondly, some have padding providing protection over the foot, helping to prevent the lump from rubbing on your shoe. As well as making activities like walking more comfortable, this can also help prevent the formation of corns and calluses on the foot over the bunion.
Here we will look at the different styles of bunion splint on the market, how they work and how to pick the right one for you. If you want to know more about the causes, symptoms and other treatment options, visit the Bunions section.
What Styles Of Bunion Splint Are There?
There are a whole range of different bunion splints out there depending on what you are looking for:
- Toe Splints: aka bunion regulators that hold the toe in the correct position, some of which also cushion the bunion. They can be worn during the day in shoes while you are walking around. They can also be used after bunion surgery. Best for mild to moderate bunions
- Night Splints: These are more substantial bunion splints that are to be worn over night rather than during the day – not for walking in. They pull the toe into better alignment and hold it there all night long. Good for any stage, mild to severe bunion treatment
- Toe Spacers/Stretchers: these sit in between your toes to help hold your toes in a more normal position. Toe spacers work best with mild to moderate bunions
- Bunion Pads/Guards: Soft pads, plastic guards or ultra-thin sleeves that cushion the bunion to stop it from rubbing on your shoes. Bunion pads don’t correct the position of the toe. Good for any stage
- Bunion Splint Sets: If you aren’t sure what to go for, you can get various sets which contain more than one different type of splint.
Daytime Toe Splints
There are two options of daytime bunion splints, both of which can be worn in shoes:
This is a plastic bunion splint that fits over the big toe and in-between the big and second toe to hold them apart. This helps to move the big toe into the correct position as well as providing protection on the side of the bunion. They stay in place well simply by wearing a sock and can be worn inside shoes.
There are a number of different manufacturers of this style of bunion splint such as Dr Rogo and AligNow, but they are all extremely similar. They are made of medical grade gel and receive average user ratings 4.2-5/5
These wrap around the big toe drawing it into a good position and anchor around the mid-foot, which helps to support the foot arches. There is usually a metal bar at the side of the bunion splint which can be moulded to hold the foot in a good position. This helps to improve the position of the toe joint as well as stretching out muscles, ligaments and tendons. They are sometimes known as bunion regulators.
There are a number of different manufacturers such as Neo G and 66 Fit, but they all receive average user ratings 3.9/5.
Bunion Night Splint
Bunion night splints work in the same way as day splints, but tend to be more rigid and less flexible. The advantage of this is that it can provide stronger support to the foot, but as they are less flexible, they are uncomfortable to walk around in, hence being used at night-time.
Wearing a bunion night splint allows the foot to be held in a good position the whole time you are in bed which is a good proportion of the day. It certainly makes sense to be stretching the foot out as much as possible and this is a great way to do that.
Bunion Toe Spacers
Toe spacers are a type of bunion splint that sit in-between the toes. There are three types available, wedges that sit between two toes only, wedges that are anchored around two toes and toe separators that sit in-between all the toes.
These bunion splints sit in-between the big toe and second toe. Some attach around the second toe, others sit freely between the two toes.
There are a number of different manufacturers but the most popular are Tip & Toes (average user rating 4.5/5), Profoot (4.7/5) and Neo G (5/5).
These toe spacer splints attach around both the big and second toe. Some people find this style stay in place better due to the extra anchor, but it will depend on the shape of your toes as to how well they fit.They tend to give less of a stretch than single spacers due to their design
The most popular brands are Pro 11 (average user review 4/5), Toe Buddy (3.8/5) and Genesis (3.9/5). User reviews aren't quite as good for this style as the single spacers.
You can also get toe stretchers that sit between each of the toes, stretching out the entire foot into better alignment. They don't provide as much of a stretch so are better suited to mild hallux valgus.
You can find out more about how they work and which ones work best in the toe stretchers section.
There are pros and cons of each style of these bunion splints. The wedge inserts can be worn in shoes and tend to push and hold the two toes apart better. However, they
correct the position of the big toe by pushing on the second toe, which
can put the second toe out of position. Toe stretchers provide less of a stretch, but hold the foot in a better overall position. However, they can't be worn in shoes.
There are a number of different styles of bunion pad available, all which work to cushion the bunion and prevent any friction over the area from your shoes. This helps to reduce pain and the formation of calluses and corns from repeated friction on the area.
Bunion pads have the advantage that they can be comfortably worn all day, but they don’t actually improve the position of the toe. So whilst they can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of bunions, they won’t actually improve them or stop them from getting worse. If that is what you are looking for, you would need a bunion splint.
This style of bunion splint simply slides over your big toe. They are made of soft, flexible gel. The thin design means they can easily be worn in shoes. These are the most solid design of bunion pads and extremely durable.
The most popular brands are Pedifix (average user rating 4.4/5) and GelX (4.2/5).
The most popular brand of gel bunion pads is Compeed. They are made of hydrocolloid gel to provide a
second skin. They stick well and mould to
the bunion providing instant pain and pressure relief, stay in place for several days and are
waterproof. Slim-line fit so they are comfortable
to wear in shoes.
You get five bunion pads per pack. These really are the bee's knees – to quote
one user “These pads are miracles”. Average user rating 4.4/5
The most popular brand are Dr Scholl's Bunion Cushions. They are soft, comforting foam cushions that sit over the top of bunions to help prevent friction. Simply stick one over the desired area – they are self-adhesive and waterproof. They are especially good at relieving or preventing calluses and hard skin.
There are six bunion pads in each pack. They stay in place really well, lasting for a good few days before they need replacing. They receive good reviews with an average user rating of 4.4/5.
Ultrathin, lightweight sleeves with a strategically placed gel pad relieves pain and pressure through the bunion. Bunion sleeves simply slip on over the front of the foot, stay in place well and can be worn underneath socks or tights.
They are easy to wash making them extremely cost effective. There are a number of different manufacturers of bunion sleeves but the most popular are HappyFeet (average user rating 4.9/5) and Pro11 (4/5)
Mix & Match Sets
Some manufacturers sell sets containing more than one type of bunion
splint. These can be a good, cost-effective way to try out the
different types of supports to find the best style for you in different
MediToes have a deluxe bunion relief set containing 12 items including various styles of bunion guards, toe spacers and bunion sleeves.
This set receives amazing user reviews scoring 5/5! A great way to try all the different types of bunion splint and work out which work best for you in which situations.
Top Tips With Bunion Splints
Some bunion splints can feel a bit uncomfortable to start with,
that is quite normal. You are stretching out tight and stiff parts of
your foot so it can take time to adjust. To avoid any discomfort, start by
wearing them for short periods and gradually increase how long you wear them
for. Before you know it, they will feel nice and comfy.
Whilst bunion splints work really well to reduce pain, stiffness and progression, they cannot completely cure a hallux valgus. You can find out more about the causes, symptoms and other treatment options for a hallux valgus in the following sections.
Page Last Updated: 2019-06-24
Next Review Due: 2021-06-24
*Prices correct as of Jan 2021. All prices are subject to change. Please note we do not stock products directly and therefore have no control over price changes. See Advertising Policy for more information