Following is a brief overview of 7 popular bunions splints or braces that treat mild to moderate bunions preventively, and in advanced cases, post-operatively.
Bunion Aid™ Bunion Treatment Splint:
This award winning flexible hinged splint by Alpha Orthotics is for mild to moderate bunions. The Bunion Aid has a hook & loop anatomical strap around the big toe and one around the mid-foot. The two straps are connected by a padded splint which lies along the inner side of the foot and extends from the big toe.
Bunion Aid treats the underlying foot function because it combines the comfort and convenience of a soft splint with the corrective support of a rigid splint. It's mid-foot strap stabilizes the longitudinal arch and transverse arch while the toe strap pulls the big toe away from the second toe gradually. The included metatarsal pad helps align the transverse arch when placed behind the ball of the foot. The splint has a hinged mechanism that enables the big toe to flex while walking and adapts to the contour of the foot, especially around the inflamed area of the joint. This is especially important as swelling in this region is common
The primary advantage of this bunion splint over the other rigid splints is the hinged mechanism. It allows natural flexing action of the big toe, gradually straightening the bunion through the range of motion. The ability to walk in the splint is an advantage at bed time as well, because one can get up without taking it off.
According to patient reviews, this splint relieves bunion pain immediately, straightens the big toe, and reduces the size of the bump. With proper compliance, gait and balance are improved substantially. Patients can then resume activities such as yoga, ballet, tennis, running and golf. Similar to other rigid splints, if not properly fitted around the mid-foot, it tends to rotate around the foot while walking or sleeping.
Bunion Aid™ Medial Mid-Foot Brace:
The Medial Mid-foot Brace is a mid-foot arch support which is recommended for those who have advanced Hallux valgus and cannot be treated with the Bunion Aid Treatment Splint. In the case of severe bunions, the compression of the side splint of the brace provides support to the metatarsal bones, taking pressure away from the painful bunion while wearing shoes. The metatarsal pad provides lift to the transverse foot arch.
This adjustable mid-foot arch support brace does not correct the bunion deformity; rather, it provides bunion pain relief for those with severe stages of bunions. According to one review, "It is like a custom made brace because the whole thing can be adjusted to fit, from the top and bottom of the straps to the placement of the little cushion." Unlike elastic sleeve foot arch supports, this arch brace will not pleat, roll up or lose shape, thus maintaining lasting corrective arch support.
Darco TAS™ Toe Alignment Splint:
Darco TAS Toe Alignment Splint is a flexible device that includes 5 straps to splint between one to all five toes. A thin elastic metatarsal band reduces slippage, and soft toe straps hold the toes in the correct position to maintain alignment following surgical correction.
This splint is most popular for post-surgical purposes. Because it is soft and flexible, it is comfortable to wear while walking. This splint is an effective and inexpensive way of maintaining correct alignment of the toes during the healing process. It is quite versatile in that the straps let one use the splint in multiple ways.
In addition to treating bunions, it treats hammertoe and tailor’s bunions. However, this advantage can also be confusing. According to one review, “it is trying to be too many things to too many toes; all the pieces can be quite confusing”.
Wheaton™ Bunion Brace
This patented Wheaton Bunion Brace is a foot sleeve made of thin, breathable neoprene and can be worn day or night. The fabric is cut and sewn on the bias to adjust to the big toe and provide a gentle, corrective force to help prevent the bunion deformity from getting worse.
This bunion brace is popular among those who have mild to moderate bunions. The bias cut of the neoprene provides a nice gentle pull. The neoprene is high quality with heavy stitching. Some patients think it is comfortable to wear in shoes, especially Crocs®. However some patients complain that the material around the big toe rubs against the second toe, cutting off the circulation. For those who have overpronation, this soft splint does not address the underlying need for mid-foot support.
The fabrifoam bunion splint, made of moisture-wicking fabrifoam®, is light weight and designed to stretch the muscles and tendons, straighten the big toe, and alleviate pressure in the shoe.
This splint is only effective for those with very, very mild bunions. The soft foam is comfortable to the skin while being firm. It relieves bunion pain but is not strong enough to correct the positioning of the big toe. It is mostly worn at night in bed due to its comfort. It is rarely worn at daytime because it is too thick to wear in shoes and doesn’t provide enough support while walking.
PediFix® Nighttime Bunion Regulator™
Very similar in design to the Footsmart Bunion Regulator, this splint by PediFix relieves pain by alleviating strain that causes a bunion deformity. This anatomically-shaped splint guides the big toe towards its normal position while gently stretching tendons and muscles to help slow progression of the condition.
According to reviews, the plastic is thicker than that of Footsmart Bunion Regulator. It too provides instant bunion pain relief and provides visible correction to the big toe. Patients who have had surgery have been satisfied in wearing this night time splint for post-surgical fixation.
But like all night time rigid splints, it is not designed for walking. It too slips and can be uncomfortable at night, forcing users to take it off at some point in the night.
FootSmart® Bunion Regulator
This bunion splint is a reasonably priced night time rigid splint that stretches tight tendons and toe muscles. The bunion brace straps the big toe in place and is lined with soft foam. Adjustments are made to the lined splint and secured in place with a hook & loop closure.
The Footsmart Bunion Regulator provides instant pain relief and patients witness visibly measureable difference in the angle of the big toe under proper fit and compliance. The simple straight forward design is quite popular.
However, the most common complaint, which is true with most night time splints, is that a patient cannot walk in it, and the splint is uncomfortable to wear in bed. Its slips and needs to be readjusted due to friction of bed covers.
Patient reviews indicate that it is uncomfortable to wear for very long because the white plastic bar digs into the skin and into the 2nd toe. The splint is not necessarily the correct shape and does not flex. Furthermore, big toe alignment occurs laterally in only one static position.
Bunion Bootie is a soft rubber bunion sleeve that claims to be a "complete bunion treatment package; protective, supportive, comfortable". The sleeve is a soft material that fits around the big toe and foot, creating a barrier between your bunion and the "brutal shoe friction every bunion sufferer faces".
Bunion Bootie claims to "Gently guide your big toe back to a more natural position, improving both your balance and gait." and "Separate and rejuvenate your toes after a long day on your feet, slowly releasing the built-up tension from too-tight shoes that result in angled toes.". The Bunion Bootie sleeve is widely regarded as ineffective against bunions and hallux valgus. Many reviews from customers express their frustration from what they consider to be a scam product. The Bunion Bootie is a soft sleeve made from thin material. It has little or no effect on the re-alignment of the big toe or the relief of bunion pain.
Bunion Bootie Customer Review