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What Are Bunion Pads?

Shoe insoles may help alleviate the symptoms of bunions.
A bunion is typically treated with surgery.
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  • Written By: Tina D.
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 24 July 2014
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While surgery is a popular option to correct bunions, a more cautious approach is to try to treat them with a variety of toe therapies, including the use of bunion pads. Bunion pads are sock or shoe inserts designed to ease the pain caused by a bunion rubbing against a shoe. They also cushion calluses and hard skin created by a bunion. Most bunion pads are for one-time use, but some are washable and reusable.

There are a wide variety of bunion pads to choose from. The main types are:

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  • Foam and felt pads. These are similar to the pads that are used to ease comfort from corns or calluses on the feet. They usually have a doughnut shape which allows the bunion to poke through the hole. The pad itself is made from foam, with a self-adhesives tape that allows it to be stuck to the skin. Felt covers the outside of the pad. Some of these types of pads contain latex, so those with latex allergies should look for ones that are explicitly latex free.
  • Gel pads. These are very much like the foam and felt pads but are made of silicone or some other soft-gel material. They often have a loop that fits over the big toe to hold the pad in place over the bunion. Other styles of gel bunion pads allow mineral oil to reach the skin to soften and moisturize the skin around the bunion.
  • Sleeve or sling pads. These pads are enclosed in a sleeve or sling made of cotton that fits around the foot. The pad fits directly over the bunion. They're made of foam or felt, or from a gel substance. Sleeve or sling bunion pads are often washable and reusable.
  • Bunion shields. A bunion shield is a bit longer than a basic bunion pad but it also fits over the bunion and is positioned along the outside of the foot. It is not so much oval-ring shaped as it is long-oval shaped, protecting a wider area of the side of the foot containing the bunion. These shields are made of foam and felt or gel. Some bunion shields are washable and reusable.

Bunion pads are available at drugstores or anywhere foot-treatment items are sold. A podiatrist can determine what the best treatment for bunions might be, as the severity of a bunion can vary greatly from person to person and even from foot to foot.

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Discuss this Article

LisaLou
Post 2

@myharley - I used the sling pads for my bunions as a last resort before surgery. They cost more than some of the foam and gel pads, but seemed to offer more support.

One thing I liked about the ones I had was they had toe separators which really helped. These can be bulky and you have to be wearing shoes that have some room in them.

I seemed to get the most relief when I wore them at night as I had to be on my feet for a large part of the day.

For someone who has never had bunions, I don't think they understand how painful they can be, and how much it hurts just to walk.

I finally gave in and had surgery because I got tired of messing around with pads and all kinds of foot products in order to get some relief from the pain.

It took awhile to recover from the surgery, but was well worth it in the end.

myharley
Post 1

I have tried a lot of different things to get relief from my bunions over the years, and have had the best results using the the bunion gel pads.

I used to love wearing high heels and never thought I would have a problem. I don't know if that is the cause of my bunions, but know it certainly doesn't help them.

The gel pads seem to be the most comfortable and give the most relief. They are a bit bulky with dress shoes, but I have been trying not to wear them as often.

Another thing I like about the gel pads I bought is that they are clear. I can wear them with sandals and ballet flats and they are not noticeable.

I know there are several different bunion products available, but these are the ones that have worked best for me.

The only thing I haven't tried yet are the sling pads. I know some of them are reusable, so wondered if anybody had good results with these?

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