Before considering bunion surgery, many people turn to over-the-counter solutions like bunion correctors. While they aren't a cure for bunions, using one may help ease some of the discomfort and pain that bunions cause. Depending on the type, bunion correctors work by either trying to gently stretch the toe back into a natural position and/or by cushioning your feet to prevent your shoes from rubbing against the bunion. According to Dr. Sophia Solomon, a foot and ankle surgeon at Manhattan Specialty Care, the best bunion correctors typically come in the form or a toe-spacer or a sleeve.
Dr. Solomon says, "If you are getting tightness or aching around the big toe, a toe-spacer will help relieve that pain and stretch the soft tissues surrounding the bunion. [Meanwhile,] bunions sleeves are great for shielding the boney bunion bump from skin irritation against the shoe. For someone with bunion pain primarily at the bump, the bunion sleeve is a great option."
She cautions that bunion correctors may not be a fit for everyone, adding: "If bunion correctors and wider shoes have failed to relieve your pain then it may be time to seek a surgical consultation with a foot surgeon."
For some over-the-counter options, take a look at the best bunion correctors on Amazon, below.
1. The Overall Best: YOGABODY Naturals Toe Spreaders
These YOGABODY Naturals toe-spreaders are a great value. For the cost of one pair of another brand, you receive two pairs of different-sized toe stretchers (so you can wear them on any foot), as well as a wooden box to store them in. These stretchers are made of high-quality and easy-to-wash rubber that's latex-free. They're even designed with a low profile so that you can wear them inside of wide athletic shoes.
What fans say: “My feet and toes love these! As a physical therapist with bunions, I highly recommend these. No more pain or discomfort from my bunions or developing hammer toes. These are compact and work wonderfully, allowing me to walk around with them and do yoga with them. And I love the lovely storage box so they're not sitting out on the side table where I store them. I've paid more for other two spreaders that were bulky and got gummy over time. These are a great value and work great!”
2. The Runner Up: YogaToes GEMS
These YogaToes GEMS are another popular option for a set of toe-stretchers. It's recommended you wear them from 15 minutes to one hour a day to help relieve bunion discomfort and stretch toes back to a natural position. They are made of BPA- and latex-free silicone gel that's easy to wash, and are sold as a pair in one size only (women's size 6 to 11 shoe). Note: Unlike the previous option, these must be worn barefoot, since they are not designed to fit inside of shoes.
What fans say: “I recently developed a bunion and it became painful to walk. I saw a podiatrist and was put on steroids. It did not stop the pain. A friend told me about these. I can honestly say that since I have started using these the pain has significantly gone down. I use them nightly. I have built up to around 45 minutes. I can now wear shoes and walk mostly with no or minimal pain. It won't 'cure' the bunion, but it certainly makes it much it much easier to live with it.”
3. The Best To Wear Under Socks: Alayna Bunion Corrector Relief Sleeve
For a bunion corrector that you can comfortably wear underneath socks and shoes, this two-pack of Alayna bunion corrector sleeves is a great choice. Each sleeve contains a gel pad that protects the bunion to cushion it and protect it from the friction of the shoe. Plus, the sleeves are washable and will stretch to fit your individual foot shape.
What fans say: “I wear these often. They are lightweight, easy to put on, easy to clean, and are a gentle way to give my bunions some space. If I wear them all day, I find the sleeve on the big toe gets too tight. I can wear these under socks comfortably.”
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