As a child, I always wondered why there was an odd bone sticking out from the base of my big toe. It seemed to be something unique that only applied to me!
Growing up, I would do anything to make sure no one noticed the ugly deformities that I later learned were bunions.
I always wore closed-toe shoes instead of sandals, even though they were much more uncomfortable. During gymnastics class, I also tried to keep my socks on and never went with friends to the nail salon either!
My mom and grandma both had bunions. I knew they could relate. My mother’s bunions never seemed to hurt her, and my grandmother had hers surgically removed years ago — but I still felt alone in my struggle with bunions.
My bunion has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older.
The pain from my bunions has increased with each passing year, and the unsightly bulges have been stretching out my skin.
Between working and being a full-time college student, I didn’t have time for surgery after I learned that this was going to take eight weeks of recovery, it seemed impossible. So instead, I decided to try my luck with something else: a bunion splint!
I slept with a bunion splint on for seven nights, and here is what I found.
What Is A Bunion?
Bunions are bony protrusions at the base of the big toe that can form due to a misalignment between your first metatarsal and big toes. The medical term for this is hallux valgus or bunions.
High heels can be a cause of bunions because they force the big toe inward toward other toes, thus misaligning joints. They also may simply run in families as well.
Mine falls under the hereditary category. Most people develop bunions later in life, but it’s not unheard of for young adults or even children to have them.
Bunion Causes, Prevention, And Treatment
Bunions can be prevented by wearing proper footwear, but if you are genetically predisposed to a bunion there is little that will prevent it from forming.
Conservative treatment options for bunions include taking ibuprofen to alleviate pain, icing the affected area, and wearing splints in order to realign the joint.
If you’re looking to get a bunion removed, surgery is the way to go. According to amino.com, the median price of bunion surgery is $5,560.
I’m excited to embark on my day one bunion-splint experiment. Can you tell?
I’m going to wear the splints for seven nights and see if I notice any changes.
For this experiment, my main goal is pain relief. If I experience a change in the progression of my bunions because of these splints then that would be great but it’s very unlikely to happen after only one week.
I was not satisfied with the flimsy plastic my bunion splints came in. They’re not super delicate, but they still should have come packaged better to protect them from any potential damage during shipment.
I bought a pair for $11.99 on Amazon that had 4 out of 5 stars.
My main reason for choosing this design was the hinge at the base of my toe. This gives more natural movement to your feet so that you can walk around while wearing bunion splints!
Despite the fact that these splints looked like they belonged in a “Saw” movie, I was really tempted to chicken out of this little experiment. To be honest, all I wanted to do at this point was straighten my toes and not torture them!
Putting Them On
I had no idea how to use this crazy contraption when I first pulled it out of the packaging. After reading the instructions, though, things started making a lot more sense.
One tip I’ll mention is that it’s best to not completely undo the straps on your first use, as this makes putting bunion splints on easier.
Try to loosen the straps just enough for your foot through. but don’t feed the straps all the way through their latch.
I really like the design of this splint. There are a few things that I think worked well. First, there is a hinge at the base which makes it more comfortable than others out there and you can move your toes freely instead of having plastic jabbing into your foot when wearing them for too long!
The design is surprisingly comfortable and easy to use, despite its unusual appearance.
I also really liked how the straps are adjustable in four places: front and back of both the toe and base of feet. This made it much easier to tailor the tension needed for joint realignment.
I knew right away that my splints wouldn’t fit into any of my shoes. In fact, I’m struggling to even wear them in the most comfortable and adjustable pair. Maybe during sleep or at home while lounging is all they’re good for!
The Experiment Night 1
The first night was a bumpy experience. I started out in good shape but probably tore the bunion splints off while sleeping because they were on the floor when I woke up. It wasn’t too bad though, and nothing to be hard on me about.
My middle school experience taught me how difficult it is to sleep in braces of all sorts if you’re not used to them. I was resolved to make it a little longer the next night.
The second and third nights were better in that I could keep the device on for a longer period of time, but my feet began to get really sweaty. This was due to using bunion splints designed specifically for each foot which are more comfortable than traditional ones.
On the fourth night, I traveled to Cincinnati for a visit with my boyfriend who found my splints were funny.
I was exhausted from flying and totally forgot to put them on, so I missed the night. The next day though, I made up for it with some daytime wear.
By night five, my right side joint began to ache. I wasn’t sure if it was due the bunion splint rotating my toe back into place or just regular bunion pain that would happen regardless of wearing a splint.
The one thing that was for sure is that wearing the device did not make my feet hurt any less.
1. Easy to use
2. Comfortable fit
3. Easy to travel with
1. Make feet sweaty
2. Can’t wear shoes
3. Didn’t alleviate pain
4. Didn’t eliminate the need for surgery
I could talk endlessly about the comfort of these splints, or how superior their design is. But at the end of the day, I still need bunion surgery.
The fact that I have been living with my deformity for decades has made it progressively worse, and the conservative treatments we’ve tried are not working.
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