Do the “Bunion Correctors” actually work?

Bunion Correctors

Bunion Correctors

They probably do work somewhat.

The whole idea behind these bunion correctors (like these ones) is that you are supposed to wear them at night and doing so means that the toe is straightened. The evidence from published research is that they can reduce the angle by a few degrees after a month. No research has been done on a group of people for longer than a month so it is not known if any more can be achieved, though it probably can.

The issue with these that the forces from the shoe and from the way we walk that are producing the bunion or hallux valgus are substantial during the day and it is a bit difficult to think that wearing a splint or corrector at night when not walking around that this will magically overcome the angle, so the small correction after one month in that study is probably not surprising.

That small correct does not mean that they should not be used. As noted by this doctor, they are particularly useful at helping with pain in the joint and keeping the joint more mobile, so that is a good reason to use them. They are certainly recommended for that reason alone and the added bonus is that they may correct the angle of teh big toe.

Hallux Rigidus

Hallux rigidus is not a bunion, but still affects the same joint as bunions – the first metatarsophalangeal joint. Like the bunion (hallux valgus), the term hallux refers to the big toe, so hallux rigidus is a rigid big toe. This means that there is no motion or next to no motion in that joint. When there is very limited motion it is often accompanied by osteoarthritis, though there can be some confusion about this.

The problem is often caused by osteoarthritis and there may be history of an old injury to the joint.

The consequences of a hallux rigidus is that it alters the way you walk. The big toe joint is so crucial for normal function, as it has to bend so the body can move forward over the foot. If the big toe joint does not move, then that movement has to be achieved by movement at other joints, which may or may not be able to take it. If they can’t then this can cause problems in those other joints.

The conservative treatment for hallux limitus is pain management initially, the use of physical therapy and the use of stiffer shoes or a rocker sole shoe to stop the joint from moving as much. Often the conservative treatments are not that satisfactory (just look at all the questions in forums about it!). Surgical options range from a fusion of the joint to help with the pain; to the removal of any bony blocks that is causing a limitation in the motion; to a type of joint replacement with a spacer in the joint.