FAQ: Do Bunion Braces/Splints Actually Work?

As the Valley’s leading acute care hospital, Scottsdale Liberty Hospital is equipped to perform surgeries for many different medical specialties, including podiatry. Physicians who practice podiatry specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of foot-related injuries, conditions, and skin concerns. One of the most common procedures performed on the foot is a bunionectomy.

This surgical procedure excises, or removes, an enlargement of bone and soft tissue, also known as a bunion, at the base of the big toe. Bunions typically result from pressure being placed unevenly on the joints and tendons in your feet. Over time, the imbalance in pressure causes the joint in your big toe to jut out beyond the normal shape of the foot.

While there is much debate surrounding the legitimacy of the following statement, there is some speculation that tight, ill-fitting shoes cause bunions. Other causes of bunions include an inherited foot type, foot injury, or foot deformity present at birth. This condition may also arise in patients affected by rheumatoid arthritis or those who wear pointed shoes for their occupation. Regardless of what causes bunions, patients often turn to conservative techniques as their first line of treatment to help alleviate pain and pressure in their feet.

Nonsurgical therapies for bunions generally include:

  • Wearing roomy, comfortable shoes
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Inserting arch supports and other inserts into shoes
  • Icing
  • Padding or splinting the foot

The last mentioned item (padding or splinting the foot) is a popular treatment option for this foot condition. There are many different types of bunion splints, but generally speaking, a common splint will hold the big toe in place with a piece of fabric that is connected to a binding around the middle of the foot. The force from the splint causes the toe to sit in proper alignment, ultimately relieving pressure from the tendons and muscles in the foot.

Many of these devices claim to correct your foot’s misalignment; however, are they really what they’re chocked up to be? The team at Scottsdale Liberty Hospital understands it may be easier to purchase a bunion brace over having surgery, but patients must understand that every bunion is unique. Surgery is a great choice for patients who’ve not experienced relief through conservative means because it is custom to the patient’s individual deformity.

In regards to the efficacy of a bunion splint, there is no evidence to suggest these devices work at correcting or improving a bunion. If your condition is relatively mild, a bunion splint may help alleviate pain and pressure in your feet and prevent further complications. Other than that, your best bet may be to undergo minimally invasive surgery to remove a bunion that is causing chronic pain and interfering with your gait.  

For more information on Scottsdale Liberty Hospital and how we can help you or a loved one, visit our information request page, or contact us at 480-586-2300

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.