Do Bunion Correctors Work? Podiatrists Tell Us the Truth—And When To Wear One

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There are many causes of foot pain, but having a bunion may be one of the most agonizing (it is for me, at least). Bunions are often the result of genetics or if your feet are constantly squeezed into too-narrow spaces (or both). In any case, this ultimately causes the big toe to slant towards the second toe, resulting in protruding bone or knot in the front of your foot—aka, a bunion.

Experts In This Article

Best bunion correctors, at a glance:

“Bunions are a progressive condition in which there is a bony prominence that protrudes near the big toe joint,” Adam Kaplan, DPM, podiatrist and CEO of Arcus Orthotics, previously told Well+Good—and having a bunion can be painful and uncomfortable and it can even prevent you from wearing your favorite shoes. I was recently reminded of this fact when I wore a pair of sneakers that were way too narrow and kept rubbing against the side of my foot. Needless to say, that put a lot of pressure on my bunion and caused me to steer clear of heels for the next few days. I also couldn’t help wondering if there was an easy way to prevent the pain withouthaving to do anything drastic.

The short answer is yes: Bunion correctors exist for the sole purpose of helping support the bone and relieve pressure and pain. But do they really work, and more importantly, should you wear one? We spoke with several podiatrists to find out.

What are bunion correctors?

According to board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Yolanda Ragland, DPM, founder and CEO of Fix Your Feet: “A bunion corrector is a device or apparatus for the front part of the foot or the forefoot that is used to realign the big toe with the long bones that are connected to it in order to reduce the bony prominence that is caused by a bunion. They work by keeping the keep from leaning over towards the second toe that is adjacent.” There are a handful of tools people use to try and correct bunions—on this list you'll see some of the best toe separators, splints, and guards.

Whether a bunion corrector will be effective for you depends on the severity of your bunion and what type of pain you’re experiencing. “There are two types of bunion pain. One is joint pain and the other is bump pain,” says Patrick McEneaney, DPM, podiatrist and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. “Bump pain is typically when you get rubbing against the side of your toe from a shoe. If you have pain that starts inside the joint, typically that’s a sign that there’s cartilage damage starting and that’s when I worry more.” If you’re experiencing the latter, it may be best to talk to a trusted podiatrist about whether or not surgery is the best option for you.

You’ll also want to keep in mind that bunion correctors are considered a temporary fix. According to Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist at Step Up Footcare: “‘Bunion correctors’ is a misnomer because they cannot actually ‘correct’ or ‘fix’ a bunion. Nonetheless, bunion correctors create a temporary realignment of the first metatarsophalangeal joint by pulling the big toe away from the second toe. The realignment helps with pain and inflammation associated with bunion deformities. [They] also stretch out the tendon between the big toe and second metatarsal, which slowly shrinks as a bunion progresses.”

Although these can’t cure your bunion, these bunion correctors can provide temporary pain relief and help reduce inflammation.

Best bunion correctors

Best podiatrist-recommended toe separators

NatraCure Gel Toe Separators
NatraCure, Gel Toe Separators, 12-Pack — $15.00

These toe separators come with the recommendation of Dr. Lobkova, and they work by keeping the big toe straight and away from the second toe to offer pain relief and prevent inflammation. They are also made of a gel material, which Dr. Lobkova recommends when purchasing toe separators. Unlike plastic, they won’t rub against and irritate the skin. While they won’t shield the bunion itself, Dr. Lobkova typically recommends against correctors that cover bunions, as the skin overlying it can be quite sensitive.

What’s more, they can be worn with shoes. Just keep in mind that multiple Amazon reviewers have mentioned that they have to wear socks to keep the toe separators in place and prevent unwanted friction when using it with footwear. As a bonus, you’ll receive a pack of 12 for just under $15.


  • Comes with the recommendation of Dr. Lobkova
  • Can be worn with or without shoes


  • Won’t safeguard the bunion itself
  • Multiple reviewers say they have to wear it with socks to keep it in place

Best wearable toe separators

ZenToes Gel Toe Separators
ZenToes, Gel Toe Separators — $13.00

Like the previous option, these top separators are made of a gel material and are designed to keep your big toe straight and away from the second toe. The difference is that it features a ring made of the same material, which you can wear around your second toe to help ensure that it stays in place. You can wear it with or without shoes, and it comes in different colors that helps them look discreet when worn with a variety of shoe styles.

It’s important to note that this won’t protect the bunion itself, which, as mentioned, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but when worn with shoes, you may experience friction.


  • Reusable
  • Can be worn with or without shoes


  • Won’t safeguard the bunion itself
  • It may move out place with prolonged use, according to some reviewers

Best set of toe separators

ViveSOLE Toe Stretchers
ViveSOLE, Toe Stretchers, 4-Pack — $12.00

These toe separators from ViveSOLE have Dr. Lobkova’s stamp of approval. The set comes with two pairs—one pair of separators to stretch the toes and relieve pressure and another pair that keeps toes in alignment. All are made from silicone gel, which provides a comfortable amount of cushioning and prevents irritation from prolonged periods of wear. The tradeoff is that they come in a larger size, which means that you can’t wear them with shoes. However, this is a small price to pay for the relief they can offer you after a long day.


  • Keeps toes in alignment and relieves pain
  • Sold in two different pair to suit a variety of preferences


  • Can’t be worn with shoes

Best bunion splint

Caretras Bunion Corrector
Caretras, Bunion Corrector — $27.00

Originally $30, now $27

If you aren’t keen on wearing toe separators, you can consider wearing a bunion splint. This option from Caretras features easy-to-adjust velcro straps to fit most foot sizes, strapping around your foot and big toe to keep it from turning inward towards your second toe using a metal bar, which is encased in a cotton material. According to board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon Brad Schaeffer, DPM, of Central Park SOLE: “[Bunion splints] hold the toe in a straight position and separate the toes, especially if the big toe is touching the second toe.”

While it can work to help temporarily alleviate the pain that is associated with misalignment, Dr. Ragland mentions that bunion correctors with rigid structures aren’t usually ideal for moving. Plus, its larger size may not be suitable for wearing with shoes. For this reason, you may want to rely on this variety while you’re at rest.


  • Adjustable to fit most foot sizes
  • Provides additional support for toe alignment


  • Material might be too stiff for moving
  • Can’t be worn with shoes

Best kinesiology tape for everyday wear

Kinesio Kinesiology Tape Tex Gold
Kinesio, Kinesiology Tape Tex Gold — $15.00

According to Dr. Lobkova, the type of bunion corrector you use is often a matter of preference. However, among the various options available, she prefers using kinesiology tape—and uses this method for application. This one-inch option from Kinesio is one option she recommends. “You can shower and sleep with [it] on your foot without worrying about cutting off circulation or macerating (moistening) the skin from occlusive irritation,” she says. “Applying [kinesiology] tape works to realign the misaligned join and compress the painful tissue overlying the bunion ‘bump.’” The option is made from latex-free and hypoallergenic cotton, and you can wear it for 3 to 5 days at a time. You can wear it with shoes, too.


  • Keeps toes in alignment
  • Compresses bunions
  • Can be worn for up to 5 days at a time
  • Suitable for wearing with shoes


  • Some people may find that applying it is time-consuming

Best kinesiology tape for bunion compression

Kinesio Therapeutic Athletic Tape Tex Classic
Kinesio, Therapeutic Athletic Tape Tex Classic — $11.00

Originally $18, now $11

This two-inch-wide kinesiology tape also comes with the recommendation of Dr. Lobkova, who says it’s ideal for those who want extra compression for a bunion bump, which in turn, can provide pain relief and keep joint inflammation at bay. This makes it ideal for those who are on their feet for long periods at a time. Like the previous option, it’s made from latex-free and hypoallergenic cotton, and you can wear it while you shower and sleep, for 3 to 5 days at a time.


  • Keeps toes in alignment
  • Compresses bunions
  • Can be worn for up to 5 days at a time
  • Suitable for wearing with shoes


  • Some people may find that applying it is time-consuming

Best bunion guard

uZenToes Bunion Guards Gel Shields
uZenToes, Bunion Guards Gel Shields — $13.00

These bunion guards not only provide your bunion bump with comfortable protection, especially when wearing shoes, but they also keep your toes in alignment, preventing the big toe from turning inward toward the second toe. Mostly, though, “they help with the painful rubbing that’s associated with bunion bumps,” says Dr. Schaeffer. These option fits over your big toe, allowing them to stay put throughout wear, and they’re suitable enough to wear with most shoes

However, it’s important to keep in mind that these won’t be suitable for those with bunions that are very tender to the touch. As mentioned by Dr. Lobkova, the skin overlying the bump can be sensitive and you’ll want to typically avoid placing additional pressure on it to avoid skin breakdown.


  • Made of silicone
  • Slips over big toe to stay in place
  • Made to fit most shoes


  • Not ideal for particularly sensitive bunions

Best bunion sleeve

Alayna Bunion Corrector
Alayna, Bunion Corrector — $14.00

If you’re looking to prevent the irritation that comes with your feet rubbing against shoes, this bunion sleeve from Alayna fits the bill. Dr. Schaeffer says that bunion sleeves work similarly to bunion guards, helping alleviate and prevent the painful rubbing that often comes with bunions. This option is made of a silicone—a material that, according to board-certified podiatrist Evan A. Vieira, DPM, FACFAS at Advanced Podiatry, offers a snug but not constrictive fit that can temporarily relieve bunion-related pains. In addition, the sleeve features a silicone gel pad that offers the bunion bump comfortable protection when wearing shoes.

Like the previous option, though, this isn’t typically ideal for those with sensitive bunions.


  • Snug but not constrictive fit
  • Has a silicone gel pad to protect bunion
  • Suitable for wearing with shoes


  • May be uncomfortable if worn for long periods, according to some reviewers

Best insoles for bunion support

Dr. Scholl’s Stabilizing Support Insole
Dr. Scholl’s Stabilizing Support Insole — $10.00

Originally $13, now $10

Beyond bunion correctors, you might want to consider insoles. “If you stabilize the foot—meaning the heel and the arch—with insoles or shoe insoles, you offload pressure from the front of the foot, and therefore remove pressure from the bunion,” says Dr. Schaeffer. With less pressure on the bunion, it can help alleviate the pain, or at the very least, prevent exacerbating it. He recommends these Dr. Scholl’s insoles, which he personally uses himself, as they provide the ideal amount of stability and support.


  • Removes unwanted pressure off of bunions
  • Can be worn with footwear


  • It isn’t designed to keep the toes in alignment
  • Limited sizing options

Do bunion correctors work?

Yes and no. For bump pain, McEneaney says that a bunion corrector, like this best-selling item ($27) from Amazon, can help offer some relief. Again, it won’t be able to fix your bunion, but it may be effective in reducing some of the redness and inflammation causing pain on the surface of the bump.

Additionally, something like a bunion shield ($13) also comes in handy if you want to help decrease bump pain. Bunion shields are soft silicone gel coverings that you put over your big toe to keep the protruding bone from brushing up against your shoe.“Those aren’t correctors, but those are more bunion shields or bunion splints,” Dr. McEneaney says. “Those can be really helpful to people because if you have a shoe where you’re getting some friction, they can act as an interface to prevent that friction.”

Regardless of which product for bunion support that you use, “they’re great while wearing them after a painful day, a long, stressful workout, or to stretch that area out and give you some relief,” says Dr. Schaeffer.

Who should wear a bunion corrector and when should you wear one?

There aren’t necessarily any hard or fast rules when it comes to wearing a bunion corrector or a splint (the other symptom-treating option). Depending on the state of your bunion though, you may or may not be better off wearing one.

“Anyone with a good range of motion and without a very stiff joint usually finds bunion straps and correctors comfortable,” says Jackie Sutera, DPM, a podiatrist partnered with shoe company Vionic. “People with severe, stiff or arthritic joints don’t have the flexibility and usually have discomfort from trying to push the joint out of its current position.”

At the same time, it’s important to remember that bunion correctors have limitations, and are, at best, a temporary fix for discomfort and painful symptoms. “Depending on the device limitations, including that some devices are not structured to wear in shoes, they may not be able to be used while walking, and they can be uncomfortable causing the bunion to be more painful,” says Dr. Ragland. Also, everyone’s experience is different. Therefore, it’s best to manage your expectations when it comes to getting relief from using these types of products.

“Think of eyeglasses which help you to see when you wear them but don’t correct or cure poor vision,” Dr. Sutera says. “[Bunion correctors] are devices that when you wear them, can reduce some strain. They do not train, fix, or reverse conditions like bunions, but oftentimes, they can offer relief while wearing them and help you to reduce some pain.”

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