Bunions are an enlargement of the big toe joint of the foot and are typically associated with a hallux (big toe) valgus (deviation to the outside). Due to that deviation, it would seem logical to use a “bunion corrector” or “hallux valgus splint” to try and correct that deviation.
This means that we have the footwear and biomechanics pushing the toe one way and a night splint or brace pushing the toe back the other way, but does it actually work at straightening the big toe?
There are plenty of opinions on this both ways if they work or not. Most of those claiming it works are on websites that are selling the bunion correctors (like us!), so, of course they are going to say it works to make sales! It is in our interest to say that they work. The claims have to be looked at critically as, for example, before and after photos are easy to fake.
Rather than rely on potentially fake before and after photos, or on unverifiable testimonials or on anecdotes from others that have tried them, what does the independent research evidence say about the bunion correctors? They say they work. Here is one of those studies that showed an on average 2-3 degree improvement in the angle of the big toe after one months use.
You do not have to take our word for it, bunion correctors do work as reducing the angle of the big toe. The independent scientific evidence says so.
What the evidence does not say, as no one has actually done that study, is that the correctors are probably also very useful at mobilising or stretching the joint in such a way that it does help with some of the deeper pain that may develop in the joint as a result of having the bunion, so even if they did not correct the toe alignment, then they could be helpful at treating the symptoms that might develop.
It is also worth keeping in mind that even if they did not work at correcting the angle of the big toe, there is probably a good chance that they go a long to way to preventing the problem from getting worse, so it might depend on what is meant when people as if bunion correctors work or not. In this case “working” could just mean that the problem does not get any worse without actually improving the angle of the toe.
Bottom line: Yes they do work at changing the angle of the toe and they probably do work at relieving the symptoms.