A bunion typically refers to a bump or bony outgrowth caused by misalignment of the toe. It is present on the joint, at the base of the big or pinky toe (bunionette). The causes of developing a bunion are still unknown, but factors that can contribute to its formation are:
- Genetics or heredity characters that result in a foot type where the tip of the toe is naturally pulled towards the smaller toes, which forces the joint at the base to stick out.
- Deformities of the joint, caused by foot stress or trauma such as in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes or very high heels for a long time, which causes crowding of toes.
Bunions might cause severe pain or inflammation and are characterized by limited movement, swelling, and redness of the deformed joint of the toe. Although bunions are not required to be treated medically, it can cause complications if not addressed correctly. An excellent method of treating bunions, which we have all heard of, is by using splints.
Bunion splints are trendy these days. Many infomercials are going about on how these silicone splints help heal bunions. Our advice to you is, don’t be fooled by these shoe store advertisements. We are here with all the answers you need regarding bunion splints, their effects, and whether they will help relieve the pain or not. So, read on!
What Are Bunion Splints?
Bunion splints are lightweight silicone sleeves or sometimes adjustable braces with straps placed between toes to separate them from each other. These splints fit around the contours of the foot nicely. Many people use it while walking or at night. It stabilizes the foot by correcting the position of the toe and increasing its flexibility. Bunion splints are mainly created to decrease the amount of stress faced by toes inside a shoe.
They are of many types, easy to use, and inexpensive, but the idea of them working is sort of gimmicky.
Recommended Bunion Splints:
These orthopedic bunion splints can help alleviate bunion pain by easing the discomfort, pressure, and inflammation. Moreover, it uses an integrated aluminum brace to provide constant pressure on your big toe. And yes, they are adjustable as well to provide you a comfortable fit.
This one is a 7-piece set to treat your feet and provide bunion relief and correction. On top of everything, the bunion relief protector, made with 100% medical-grade silicone, reduces the friction between your toes.
If you have pain in your bunion or want to correct its posture, you can invest in this 7pc kit by Flyen.
If you are facing bunion pain or have Hallux Valgus and crooked toes, then you can use this pair of bunion brace by Vive to protect and gently realign your toes. In addition to that, these splints reduce friction, pressure, and inflammation.
Why Don’t Bunion Splints Work?
Bunions are a type of deformity of the joint, which in most cases, occurs due to heredity. The strain in our feet caused due to walking allows the tendons of the toe joints to stretch. When the tendon is stretched abnormally for long periods, it deviates the big toe and forms a bunion. Bunion splints help pull away from other toes from the bunion. It does not do anything to help correct or cure the deformity of the tendon. They only provide temporary relief.
Another reason why these splints do not work is that they temporarily keep your toes away from each other. An example to help you better understand this is, think of yoga toes or other toe separators that you use during a pedicure. They space out your toes and stretch them, but after removal, the toes go back to their original shape, just like splints.
Splints can help with toe separation and even stretch tendons and ligaments, but they can never do this for a long time. Splints are also unable to help with bone problems. It is safe to say that bunion splints are no less than a toe separator. There is no evidence proving that bunion splints can help treat bunions.
How to Treat Bunions?
If the bunion is causing you immense pain and immobility, it is advised to go for medical bunion surgery. Surgery is only possible when there is no other resort to treat the condition. For people with chronic conditions like arthritis and calluses, it is better to treat the pain through a medical procedure than splints, which can only provide temporary relief. The recovery time for the treatment of bunions through medical interventions is between two to three weeks.
A great alternative to splints is using custom orthotic devices recommended by orthopedic surgeons. These devices help ease foot pain and improve function. Because these devices are custom made, they help treat bunions better while distributing the weight equally on all toes, providing support while tendon stretch, and long-term comfort. Alongside medications, such as anti-inflammatory joint injections or topical patches, orthotics are a great way to treat bunions.
Always remember that surgery is the last resort to treat extremely painful bunions.
When To Use Bunion Splints?
After curing your bunion through an operative procedure, bunion splints can be used post-operatively to maintain the shape and correction made, while the ligaments, tendons, joints, and bones are healing. Along with this, it can also help stretch out the healing soft tissue of the joint.
Bunion splints can also break up scar tissues and prevent scarring. The final advantage of using bunion splints after a surgical procedure is to help ease movement and provide a wide range of motion, without bringing the healing joint under excessive strain.
Bunion splints or toe spacers can be used for healing for about up to three months post-operatively.
Other Use of Bunion Splints
Many doctors will recommend the use of splints for bunion relief instead of immediately going for surgery. They are lightweight, affordable, and economically priced, which makes them accessible and comfortable for use. Moreover, they are reusable and can be washed.
Most people with small and less painful bunions use splints to ease walking. Furthermore, they can protect the alignment of the joint without any discomfort. Bunion splints are also used at night to help keep joints at a fixed position. For children, bunion splints are recommended for use because they help with correction, and since the joints are developing, they are brought into shape easily.
Despite the numerous uses, it remains a temporary way to relieve pain and work to a certain extent.
Bunions are sometimes painless or painful bumps on the thumb toe joint of the foot. It can be caused due to a variety of reasons. One thing to bear in mind is that bunion splints do not heal or treat bunions; they only provide temporary relief.
However, bunion splints are not all useless; they are of great help after bunion surgery and can aid a lot with correction and posture, while the joint and tendon is healing.