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What are bunion splints? The basic design of a bunion splint has a “holder” for the big toe, extended in a longitudinal direction connected to another “binding” around the mid-foot, resulting in a corrective force of the big toe. The most successful splints address the underlying foot function by providing proper support to the midfoot’s two arches (longitudinal and transverse) while pulling the big toe away from the 2nd toe, gently stretching the tendon and toe muscles. Many moderate to severe bunions can be effectively treated with orthotic bunion splints such as the Bunion Aid Treatment Splint or the Bunion Aid Medial Mid-Foot Brace.
In general, bunion splints fall into two categories:
- 1. Rigid splints, most often, are considered night time splints because the materials are either not flexible and/or cannot bear weight. Custom-molded rigid splints are made of thermoplastic that is molded to the medial aspect of the foot and great toe. Ready-made braces are unmolded straight splints made of plastic or metal against which the foot and great toe are attached.
- 2. Flexible or soft splints are made of fabric material that surrounds the forefoot and great toe. Correction is by way of a strap that is attached to the brace by hook & loop fasteners or by the bias cut of the material that pulls the big toe into the corrected position. Flexible splints are most often considered day splints because of the ability to walk in them
Role of Splints After Bunion Surgery
- Post Bunion Surgery recovery is a lengthy and painful process that all bunion surgery patients must go through. The goal after bunion surgery is get patients walking as soon as possible in an effort to keep the newly remodeled joint moving. If not, the joint tends to get stiff taking even longer to rehabilitate. One of the most important factors in post-operative rehabilitation is compliance. Frequently this includes physical therapy, wearing a night time splint, and wearing a daytime bunion splint to maintain the surgical correction.
- A critical component of the success of any bunion splint correcting the deformity is compliance. A comfortable and convenient splint greatly increases compliance. Depending on the severity of the bunion, daily compliance, at a minimum of 20 minutes up to 3-4 hours, is required to witness any significant improvement. Since a bunion cannot be “cured”, ongoing preventive care is required to prevent the further progression or reappearance of a bunion.
- Once Dr. Thomajan recommends wearing a splint and provides walking instructions, wearing a flexible but supportive splint such as Bunion Aid helps reduce rehab time and maintain the surgical fixation. Bunion Aid stabilizes the alignment of the big toe and allows the surgical area to heal through the range of motion. Ongoing use of this day/night splint provides mid-foot support and keeps the big toe straight, preventing the recurrence of a bunion.