Do Bunion Correctors Work to Treat Pain, Realign Toe Joints? (2024)

Do Bunion Correctors Work to Treat Pain, Realign Toe Joints? (1)Share on Pinterest

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Bunions are bony bumps that form on the side of your foot at the base of your big toe. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons says that bunions develop over time when your big toe tilts toward your other toes due to repetitive stress.

Bunions are very common and become more prevalent with age. According to a 2020 research review done in Australia, about 23 percent of adults have them, and more than 80 percent of people seeking medical treatment for bunions are 45 or older.

Surgery is the only proven option for getting rid of bunions, but it’s usually only performed when your bunions are causing you severe discomfort at rest or when walking.

Bunion correctors are noninvasive treatment options that straighten your big toe. Some people find they help reduce pain, but research is still largely inconclusive.

Read on to learn how bunion correctors may help you manage pain and what other treatment options may be effective.

Research suggests that bunion correctors aren’t effective at realigning your big toe or at getting rid of bunions. But they may help provide some temporary pain relief, while you wear them.

The few studies examining the potential benefit of bunion correctors for reducing pain suggest they’re unlikely to have a big effect or cause long-term results.

In a small 2020 study, a group of 70 people with bunions were treated with a toe splint or received no treatment. There was no difference in big toe alignment between the two groups. However, the researchers found people in the splint group reported significantly less pain during walking, running, and at rest.

In an older, small 2008 study, researchers compared the effect of wearing toe separating insoles versus a night splint in a group of 30 women between the ages of 19 to 45 with bunions. Women in the toe separator group experienced pain reduction, but the women given night splints didn’t. Neither group had a significant change in big toe angle.

It’s plausible that bunion correctors may slow down the progression of bunions, but more research is needed to understand their effect.

When a bone or joint is repeatedly stressed, your body compensates by producing more bone in that area. When your big toe turns inward, more stress is applied to the inner side of your foot. Over time, this leads to the formation of a bunion.

Bunion correctors are designed to straighten your big toe and return it to its natural position. They vary in design, but often fit over part of your foot like a sleeve and have a spacer that fits between your big toe and second toe.

Other bunion correctors are splints that keep your toe straight by supporting it from the side. Splints generally don’t fit in your shoes and are designed for overnight wear.

The strategy behind bunion correctors is that forcing your toe back into its natural position will help it stay there even in the absence of the corrector, similar to how braces help shift your teeth over time.

However, there’s no evidence that bunion correctors are effective at changing the angle of your toe or at getting rid of bunions. A limited amount of evidence suggests they might help slow down the progression of bunions and provide pain relief, but more research is needed.

Surgery is the only effective treatment for bunions that cause severe discomfort or when nonsurgical options aren’t effective. Nonsurgical treatments like physiotherapy or pain relievers may help manage symptoms of minor bunions.


A 2020 research review showed that 100 types of surgery can be used to remove bunions. Most of them involve repositioning tendons, ligaments, and the joint capsule to change the position of your big toe. The bone at the base of your big toe and the bone behind it may be cut. Surgery usually takes about 30 to 100 minutes.

In some cases, your big toe may be fixed in places with metal plates or screws.

Nonsurgical treatments

Other treatment options that may help you manage your symptoms include:

  • Physiotherapy. Physiotherapy may help you strengthen and stretch the muscles and connective tissue in your foot.
  • Pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be able to relieve pain during flare-ups.
  • Changing footwear. Wearing footwear with a low heel that provides you room to move your toes may help reduce pressure on your bunion. Applying padding or tape to your bunion may also help reduce pressure.
  • Orthotics. Orthotics may provide pain relief for some people, but there’s a limited amount of scientific evidence to back their use.

Bunion correctors won’t cure your bunions, but they may provide temporary pain relief while you wear them. You can find bunion correctors at many pharmacies and places that sell footwear.

Shop for bunion correctors online.

The exact cause of bunions isn’t clear. People often have a family history of bunions, suggesting genetics play a role. Certain anatomical abnormalities of your foot like weak connective tissue or a short Achilles tendon may contribute to their development.

Being flatfooted, having rheumatoid arthritis, or having a short calf muscle is also thought to increase your risk.

Tight shoes and high heels are often blamed for bunion development, but footwear isn’t thought to be the main cause. Some people who wear high heels or tight shoes never develop bunions, while some people who wear flat and loose shoes do.

It’s likely footwear contributes to bunion development in genetically predisposed people.

Some potential ways to lower your risk of developing bunions include:

  • wearing comfortable and flat shoes
  • avoiding shoes that are tight around the balls of your feet
  • minimizing time wearing high heels or shoes with pointed toes
  • spending more time walking barefoot

Bunion correctors are devices that straighten your big toe. They don’t cure bunions, but some people find they provide temporary pain relief. More scientific evidence is needed to learn if they can slow down bunion progression.

Surgery is the only effective treatment for severe bunions that don’t respond to nonsurgical treatments. If you think you may be a candidate, a doctor can help advise you on what type of surgery may be right for you.

Do Bunion Correctors Work to Treat Pain, Realign Toe Joints? (2024)


Do Bunion Correctors Work to Treat Pain, Realign Toe Joints? ›

Like pads, sleeves protect the bunion from rubbing inside shoes, but are more locked in due to their design. While they can offer pain relief, it's important to know that bunion correctors can't permanently heal a bunion. It won't align the bones, muscles and ligaments inside your foot.

Do podiatrists recommend bunion correctors? ›

Our podiatrists say that while over-the-counter options can't fully rid bunions, they can alleviate pain and offer temporary relief. Function: There are many options to help manage your bunions, including bunion correctors, toe spacers, gels, padding, and even wide-toe box shoes.

Do orthopedic toe correctors work? ›

Unfortunately, there is no medical research or data to support the claim that bunion correctors straighten the big toe. If your bunions are pretty severe, no plastic or elastic device is going to correct them. However, these correctors and splints may provide some pain relief to the big toe.

Do bunion correctors relieve pain? ›

Bunion splints can be an effective way to relieve the pain and pressure of a bunion and even slow the progress. Bunion splints range in price and so they can be an affordable conservative treatment option for many patients.

How long does it take for a toe corrector to work? ›

Over the next few months to a year, you'll start to experience enhanced toe dexterity, increased foot and toe muscle strength, and relief from more bothersome aches and pains.

Can you straighten a bunion without surgery? ›

In most cases, bunions can be treated nonsurgically. One of the podiatrists from our team can examine your bunion(s) and recommend a conservative treatment which includes one or more of the following: Custom shoe orthotics (inserts) that relieve pressure on the joint and align your weight in a more beneficial way.

What is the device to fix bunions without surgery? ›

Bunion splints – Bunion splints can help realign the toes and reduce bunion pain. They are usually worn at night and can provide long-term relief from bunion pain. Shoe inserts – Shoe inserts can help provide support and reduce the pressure on the bunion.

Can you realign toes without surgery? ›

Non-surgical treatments such as wearing proper footwear and doing toe exercises can be effective in managing symptoms and preventing further deformity. Using orthotic devices or padding can also be effective. Surgery is generally considered a last resort option after non-surgical treatments have been exhausted.

What is the best way to straighten your toes? ›

Crooked toes can often be corrected by lifestyle strategies, such as choosing well-fitting footwear and avoiding high heels. At-home treatments, such as wearing a splint or toe spacer, may also help. If the crooked toe has become set and rigid, or if it doesn't respond to at-home treatment, surgery may be recommended.

What is the best bunion corrector for podiatrists? ›

When to Consult a Podiatrist
  • Best Overall: Caretras Bunion Corrector at Amazon ($25) ...
  • Best Gel Bunion Guard: NatraCure Gel Big Toe Bunion Guard at Amazon ($19) ...
  • Best Insoles: Spenco PolySorb Cross Trainer Insoles at Amazon ($25) ...
  • Best Toe Spreader: ...
  • Best Sleeve: ...
  • Best Bunion Relief Kit: ...
  • Best Socks: ...
  • Best Orthotic:
Mar 6, 2024

Do bunion corrector splints really work? ›

Research suggests that bunion correctors aren't effective at realigning your big toe or at getting rid of bunions. But they may help provide some temporary pain relief, while you wear them.

How long should you wear a bunion corrector per day? ›

Other bunion correctors are designed to be worn overnight. This is generally because they are too bulky to wear under socks and shoes and require you to be barefoot. You should wear these bunion correctors overnight only.

How long does it take to realign your toes? ›

All it takes is at least 60 minutes of wear everyday and you will begin seeing and feeling improvements after 1-2 weeks.

Can toe spacers realign toes? ›

Toe spreaders work by helping to realign the toes, which can help to relieve pressure and pain in the feet. They can also improve circulation and promote proper balance and stability.

Why won't my toe straighten? ›

If a shoe forces a toe to stay in a bent position for too long, the muscles tighten and the tendons shorten, or contract. This makes it harder to straighten the toe. Over time, the toe muscles can't straighten the toe, even when you aren't wearing shoes. These toe problems form over years and are common in adults.

How do podiatrists get rid of bunions? ›

Fortunately, there are several surgical treatment options available for bunions. The most common procedure involves cutting out the bunion and realigning the toe. Sometimes, podiatric surgeons may use pins or screws to hold the toe in place while it heals.

How do podiatrists treat bunions? ›

podiatry treatment

Bunion splint: in the early stages of bunion, splints can be used. These are worn at night over a period of time. Silicone toe spacers: manufacturing a custom-made silicone toe space to wear between your big toe and second toe can help reduce pain in the big to joint.

Can a podiatrist do anything for bunions? ›

Diagnosis and Treatment

A podiatrist may recommend these treatments: Padding and Taping: Often the first step in a treatment plan, padding the bunion minimizes pain and allows the patient to continue a normal, active life. Taping helps keep the foot in a normal position, thus reducing stress and pain.


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