Bunion Treatments come in several types. According to Bunion Advisor.com A variety of conservative treatments for bunion pain relief and big toe correction promises to either postpone the need for surgery or avoid a bunionectomy altogether. Every patient is different in the degree of metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint deviation from the big toe (stages of a Hallux valgus) and/ or their compliance (how frequently and for how long they use the treatment). Doctors and patients are known to have prescribed or used any one orthotic solution or a combination of solutions ranging from toe spacers or pads to night time splints – all with different outcomes.
1. Protective pads or cushions such as pre-cut pads and gel toe shields and caps simply protect the bunion from friction but do not straighten the big toe.
2. Toe spreading devices take the form of a wedge being positioned in the space between the big toe and 2nd toe, so the big toe is pushed towards the inner side of the foot. Unfortunately, in order to exert a force, they support themselves against the neighboring toes, causing incorrect position of those toes. However, toe spreaders, such as Yoga Toes®, which insert spread between all five toes tend to provide a consistent and comfortable positioning of the toes.
3. Toe straighteners are usually padded splints that run along the inner side of the foot as a spring with a ring eye at the toe end to hold the big toe. At the other end, the pad splint is bent to rest against the heel allowing the big toe to be brought out into normal position. Compliance can be difficult due to the discomfort of these contraptions
4. Bunion splints or braces, with compliance, are the most effective conservative treatments in preventing further progression of a bunion, as well as for post-operative purposes. Well designed splints address the underlying foot function that contributes to the toe deviation, whereas, the aforementioned treatments do not.
What are bunion splints? The basic design of a bunion splint has a “holder” for the big toe, extended in a longitudinal direction connected to another “binding” around the mid-foot, resulting in a corrective force of the big toe. The most successful splints address the underlying foot function by providing proper support to the midfoot’s two arches (longitudinal and transverse) while pulling the big toe away from the 2nd toe, gently stretching the tendon and toe muscles. Many moderate to severe bunions can be effectively treated with orthotic bunion splints such as the Bunion Aid Treatment Splint or the Bunion Aid Medial Mid-Foot Brace.
In general, bunion splints fall into two categories:
- 1. Rigid splints, most often, are considered night time splints
because the materials are either not flexible and/or cannot bear weight.
Custom-molded rigid splints are made of thermoplastic that is molded to the medial aspect of the foot and great toe.
Ready-made braces are unmolded straight splints made of
plastic or metal against which the foot and great toe are
- 2. Flexible or soft splints are made of fabric material that
surrounds the forefoot and great toe. Correction is by way of a strap that is attached to the brace by hook & loop fasteners or by the bias cut of the material that pulls the big toe into the corrected position. Flexible splints are most often considered day splints because of the ability to walk in them
Post Bunion Surgery recovery is a lengthy and painful process that all bunion surgery patients must go through. The goal after bunion surgery is get patients walking as soon as possible in an effort to keep the newly remodeled joint moving. If not, the joint tends to get stiff taking even longer to rehabilitate. One of the most important factors in post-operative rehabilitation is compliance. Frequently this includes physical therapy, wearing a night time splint, and wearing a daytime bunion splint to maintain the surgical correction.
A critical component of the success of any bunion splint correcting the deformity is compliance. A comfortable and convenient splint greatly increases compliance. Depending on the severity of the bunion, daily compliance, at a minimum of 20 minutes up to 3-4 hours, is required to witness any significant improvement. Since a bunion cannot be “cured”, ongoing preventive care is required to prevent the further progression or reappearance of a bunion.
Once the surgeon recommends wearing a splint and provides walking instructions, wearing a flexible but supportive splint such as Bunion Aid helps reduce rehab time and maintain the surgical fixation. Bunion Aid stabilizes the alignment of the big toe and allows the surgical area to heal through the range of motion. Ongoing use of this day/night splint provides mid-foot support and keeps the big toe straight, preventing the recurrence of a bunion.