If you’ve been bestowed with the gift of bunions, you might think you’re resigned to regular foot pain forever — especially if you happen to choose love high heels or lead an active lifestyle. Aching feet from bunions can be a nuisance at best to totally debilitating at worst, making it essential to treat them accordingly. Luckily, there is relief — we’ve rounded up some of the best bunion correctors around to help ease the throbbing of your poor, smarting dogs.
What are bunions?
One of society’s most common foot ailments, “a bunion is a foot deformity where there is a bump on the inside base of your big toe joint, New York-based foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Sophia Solomon D.P.M., explains to FIRST fo Women. “In this deformity, your big toe tends to deviate towards your second toe.”
While some are merely unsightly or minor nuisances, others are more problematic. “Bunions range from completely painless to [being] so painful that it is almost impossible to walk,” says Dr. Dana Canuso, a New Jersey-based podiatric surgeon.
She explains that while bunion pain typically progresses over time, it can come on more suddenly in rare instances.
“You will know you have a bunion if you notice a bump on the side of your big toe,” says New York podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CES, who notes that patients usually notice their shoes feeling tighter or pain in the great toe joint when walking.
Solomon notes that “redness and skin irritation at the bony inside base of your big toe” can also be indicative of a bunion.
What causes bunions?
If you think you’ve got a bunion forming, don’t fret: “Bunions are very common and can even begin in childhood,” said Canuso.
She’s not kidding: A 2018 article from Informed cites an estimation of one in every three people over the age of 65 having a bunion to some degree.
“A typical bunion patient, however, is a middle-aged woman or man that has low arches or flat feet and has developed the bunion over time,” Canuso says.
Bunions can also happen after regularly wearing tight and narrow shoes, such as high heels, which place pressure on the toes, which is why athletes like dancers and women are more prone to getting them. All three experts recommend seeing a doctor or podiatrist as soon as you notice pain or your bunion begins to interfere with your everyday life due to pain or a deformity that makes it difficult to wear shoes.
Can bunions cause other health problems?
In severe cases, the joints are impacted, and the big toe can slide beneath the second toe, putting “the joints as risk for arthritis formation,” according to Splichal.
Our experts explained that bunions can also lead to several secondary health concerns. “Bunions can cause arthritis of the big toe joint, hammering of the lesser toes, plantar plate tears of the second toe, and metatarsalgia [pain and inflammation in the ball of the foot],” says Solomon.
And, if your walking is impacted by foot pain from a bunion, it “can affect your knees, hips and back,” adds Canuso. “Even your neck and shoulders can be thrown out of alignment by a painful or significant bunion that causes you to walk with a compensated gait.”
How to Treat Bunions
All three experts agreed that “when treating a bunion … you want to begin with conservative measures.” “These may include bunion strappings and padding, orthotics you wear in your shoes, special shoes, and over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatories,” Canuso says.
While steroid injections or even surgery may become necessary, she notes that such measures are usually a last resort after other conservative treatments have failed. Ultimately, she says “Surgery is the only way to correct the bone deformities caused by a bunion,” with over-the-counter remedies work to correct soft tissue or bunion symptoms.
If you’re not yet to the point of surgery and are looking for mild relief, there are plenty of treatments you can try in the meantime, and we’ve rounded up the top of the heap. Keep scrolling to shop FIRST‘s picks for the best products for getting relief from bunion pain.
We write about products we think our readers will like. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the supplier.
Yoga Toes Gems
Best Toe Separators for Bunions — YogaToes GEMS
Where to buy: $29.95, Amazon
These toe spreaders by YogaToes are essential for anyone dealing with bunion pain — or foot pain in general. Toe stretchers work by gently straightening toes and increasing flexibility, giving your feet space to stretch out while relieving pressure and overcrowding. When worn daily in 15-minute increments increasing to an hour, you’ll begin to experience less achiness.
YogaToes' verision, which are both hypoallergenic and medical-grade, boast more than1,600 five-star reviews, with shoppers crediting them with help for all kinds of foot woes, from bunions to plantar fasciitis, to arthritis and hammer toes. Wrote one happy customer: "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."
Dr. Scholl's Bunion Cushions
Best Pain Reliever for Bunions — Dr. Scholl’s Bunion Cushions
Where to buy: $4.46 (Originally $5.99), Amazon
When it comes to foot pain, there’s a reason that Dr. Scholl’s products reign supreme: They offer an affordable way to feel relief fast. These bunion cushions, for instance, work like a bandage where you feel pain and friction. They’re compact, flexible, and virtually invisible, making them perfect for everyday wear under most types of shoes.
Each package comes with five cushions, which makes them ideal for stashing in your purse, desk, or medicine cabinet to ensure you'll always have them on whenever bunion pain pops up. They can be used alone or together with other correction products, making them a must-have for any and all bunion woes.
Alayna Bunion Sleeve
Best Bunion Corrector Sleeve — Alayna
Where to buy: $7.04, Amazon
Need relief from bunion pain under shoes and socks? Try Alayna’s bunion corrector relief sleeve, which can be worn discreetly with most footwear. That makes it an optimal choice for days when you’re on-the-go.
This two-pack contains a gel pad that rests on your bunion to protect and cushion it from the friction of your shoes. Plus, these washable sleeves will mold and stretch to fit your individual foot shape, so they'll never be too tight or restrictive on already achy toes and soles.
Ortho Sleeve Sock
Best Bunion Socks — OrthoSleeve BR4 Bunion Relief Socks
Where to buy: $24.99, Amazon
If you need bunion relief but sleeves and separators just won’t do, look no further than OrthoSleeve’s bunion relief socks, which look just like an average pair of sport socks, but come with serious soreness benefits.
Designed for anytime wear, these socks feature a split-toe design and padding at the bunions to relieve pressure from built-up friction. They also aid with support for your arches and overall foot structure, which can be subject to extra pressure and pain where bunions come into play. What's more, their thin, lightweight nylon is equipped to wick away moisture and control odor, keeping your feet feeling fancy and fresh all day long.
Spenco Bunion Cushion
Best Insoles for Bunion Pain — Spenco RX Arch Cushion
Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon
Though custom orthotics are your best bet for alleviating foot pain due to bunions, these insoles by Spenco are a budget-friendly way to achieve mild relief or prevent formation.
When you slip them into your shoes, they'll provide arch support from heel to toe, keeping your feet properly aligned as you walk around. With seven sizes for optimal fit and performance, these insoles also contain microbial properties that will ward off blisters and keep feet smelling clean for hours.
A recent Amazon reviewer said her pain was gone “within a week” of wearing these insoles, noting that she’s “absolutely [indebted] to these things.” We’re sold!
Best Bunion Correction Kit — Flyen Bunion Corrector and Bunion Relief Sleeves Kit
Where to buy: $12.99, Amazon
Perfect for wearing around the house, Flyen’s bunion corrector and bunion relief protector sleeves kit features seven pieces of specially-designed equipment for providing serious relief from bunion pain. Two toe spacers, two foot sleeves, a toe stretcher, and two splints, which strap on and are secured by Velcro to help correctly align and strengthen your big toes, are included for less than $15. The splints are made from cotton and spandex, so they’re comfortable, breathable, and flexible, and washable, too.
1,350 five-star reviews don’t lie — this is a great set for anyone looking to take on bunion pain — foot on.
Best Bunion Pads — NatraCure Gel Big Toe Bunion Guards
Where to buy: $14.99, Amazon
Solomon recommends this six-pack of bunion guards by NatraCure, which “prevent your big toe from hitting the second toe” while also preventing irritation from your shoes, which can hit “the skin along the bunion bump.”
When used with regularity, this cushy gel design can help to gently alleviate pain and re-align overlapping, crooked toes, slowly releasing medical-grade mineral oil, vitamin E, and aloe vera to moisturize, soothe, and protect your tootsies. These pads fit snugly inside your shoes, so you can wear them all day long without discomfort or irritation.
Best Shoe Stretcher for Bunions — FootFitter
Where to buy: $39.95, Amazon
Ill-fitting shoes are a top cause of bunions, especially in women, so this cast-iron shoe stretcher from FootFitter is a great preventative tool. You can use the adjustable clamp overnight to make your favorite kicks fit more comfortably, preventing a host of foot issues in the long run — including bunions, corns, hammertoes, and other foot-related pressure points
This tool works on both natural leather and synthetic fabrics found in everything from boots and heels to ice skates.
Big Tron Bunion Correction Band
Best Bunion Corrector Band — BigTron
Where to buy: $6.99, Amazon
While this device may look a little crazy, it actually helps your bunions in a major way, realigning and relaxing the big toes. Doing foot exercises is crucial for alleviating the tension and pain caused by bunions, and this band works to keep your toes flexible and prevent against additional foot problems.
Made from a soft but durable elastic fabric, it’s comfortable enough for everyday use and can be washed with mild soap and water, so you can reuse it as often as you like. It’s also small enough to stick in your purse, car, desk, or nightstand, so you can do some exercises anytime you’ve got a free minute to spare.
Best Foot Massage for Bunion Pain— RAD Rounds
Where to buy: $16.00, Amazon
When your feet could use a little bit of TLC, try out RAD Rounds — a product recommended by Splichal to help reduce inflammation and strain on soft tissue trigger points of feet and toes.
By massaging feet with these massage balls, you’ll improve joint range of motion and myofascial mobility, which will be a game-changer for post-workout recovery, walking, or everyday pain from foot conditions like bunions.
This set of three (soft, medium, and firm) is small enough to take anywhere, and can be used on other achy body parts, too, including your hands, arms, back, neck, jaw, and more.
Best Splint for Bunions — Caretras Bunion Corrector
Where to buy: $17.99, Amazon
This orthopedic bunion splint by Caretras gives your tootsies a break by supporting and correcting the toes, in turn alleviating discomfort and irritation. They’re easily adjustable and comfortable enough to be worn during sleep. Though they're one-size-fits-most, they've got non-slip properties that will help them stay in place in your shoes and are plenty easy to clean and re-wear.
Take it from one experienced shopper, who wrote, “I'm very pleased with the product, as I have tried many similar correctors. I am able to wear them through the night and have been able to wake up without pain."