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Are Toe Spacers Effective in Treating Bunions?

Research suggests that custom-molded silicone toe separators help in correcting bunions, relieve bunion pain, and give patients a better subjective feeling.

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Siphokazi Mdidimba
Edited by Siphokazi Mdidimba

Published June 29, 2022.

Unlike the fingers that are often free to grasp, the toes often end up cramped in small shoe spaces. While we consider style, comfort, quality, and price when choosing shoes, we rarely consider the toe box. The continuous confinement of the toes can cause a malalignment and lead to conditions like bunions, hammer toes, and plantar fasciitis.

The easiest way to counteract the effects of your shoes is to wear corrective toe spacers. Thus, toe spacers are orthotics placed in between the toes to realign the toes and stretch the foot muscles. They are made from silicone or gel materials and help correct deformities and improve stability and posturing.

Do Toe Spacers Help Treat Bunions?

One of the most common deformities of the toe is the bunion deformity (or hallux valgus deformity). There is little evidence to suggest the effectiveness of toe spacers in treating bunions. One study suggests that custom-molded silicone toe separators help in correcting bunions and relieving bunion pain. Another research study suggests that toe spacers (with or without exercises) can improve the patient's subjective feelings. The study suggests that toe spacers will provide short-term pain relief without correcting the toe deformity.

How Long Should You Wear Toe Spacers When Treating Bunions?

There is no straight answer to how long you should wear toe spacers. It all depends on several factors, such as the severity of the deformity and the design of the toe spacers. Toe spacers designed for use with shoes can be worn for as long for longer periods. Others are worn barefoot and can be used overnight.