Author: Chloe Wilson - BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
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 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.
There are a whole range of different bunion splints out there depending on what you are looking for:
1) 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
2) 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
3) Toe Spacers/Stretchers: these sit in between your toes to help hold your toes in a more normal position. They work best with mild to moderate bunions
4) Bunion Pads/Guards: Soft pads, plastic guards or ultra-thin sleeves that cushion the bunion to stop it from rubbing on your shoes. They don’t correct the position of the toe. Good for any stage
5) 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.
There are two options of daytime bunion splints, both of which can be worn in shoes.
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.
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. They 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.
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
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.
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Page Last Updated: 14/01/19
Next Review Due: 14/01/21