A bunion is a musculoskeletal condition of the foot that causes the big toe to angle toward the second toe, resulting in a large bump at the base of the big toe. The big toe shifts out of position because of a separation that occurs between the first and second metatarsal bones (long bones of the foot). As a result, the forefoot widens, making shoes uncomfortable for some bunion sufferers. Another common complaint associated with a bunion is pain or inflammation at the big toe area where the bump lies. While a bunion cannot be permanently corrected by over-the-counter products, there are some products that may be helpful in alleviating the pain and discomfort. You will find that some products for bunions are geared toward women -- for example, Bunion Support Socks are currently only available in women's sizes. This is because bunions predominantly affect women, although men and children can suffer from bunions too.
This product is a type of splint, which is designed for holding the big toe in a straighter position. It can be worn while walking or while at rest or sleeping. However, some people may find it uncomfortable to wear while walking. If worn regularly, this device and other bunion splints may help resist some of the soft tissue contracture that occurs with a bunion. For some, this may be beneficial in alleviating the pain and inflammation that occurs in response to this soft tissue stress.
Bunion night splints such as the brand pictured are designed to be worn while you are off your feet and cannot be worn while walking. A night splint aligns the big toe, pulling it back into its proper position while the wearer is resting or sleeping. As with the Bunion Aid Splint, night splints can help resist soft tissue stress, possibly decreasing symptoms of pain and inflammation -- but do not offer permanent bunion correction.
A Bunion Sleeve is helpful for protecting the bunion's prominent bump from shoe friction. It fits over the foot like a sock has a protective gel layer that cushions the bunion. It does not splint the toe as a bunion splint does, but it has the advantage of being less bulky. A bunion sleeve may be helpful for anyone experiencing bunion pain or skin irritation due to rubbing against the shoe. Some bunion sleeves come in different sizes to ensure a comfortable fit.
Gel toe spreaders (also known as spacers or separators) are used for separating the big toe from the second toe. With a bunion, the big toe angles toward the second toe and may even press against it, creating new problems such as a corn. Gel toe spreaders similar to the one pictured will also help realign the big toe, resisting some of the soft tissue stress associated with a bunion. The brand of gel toe spreader pictured has a loop which attaches to the second toe which helps keep the spreader from slipping. There are also brands of toe spreaders that do not have this loop.
The combination of features listed for these Bunion Support Socks include: a toe separator, bunion cushion on the outside of the big toe, a wider toe box for accomodating the increased width of the foot, and a metatarsal cushion on the sole of the foot. These socks come in either quarter or crew styles, but are limited to women's sizes 6-10.