The Other Bunion
Most people are familiar with ordinary bunions. These are forefoot deformities of the big toe. A large bump develops on the side of the foot when the big toe and its metatarsal slide out of alignment. Not as many people recognize a similar, but much smaller and less common, deformity known as a bunionette, or tailor’s bunion. Bunionettes are small bumps that develop the same way—a toe and its metatarsal are not properly aligned. This deformity, however, develops on the outside of the foot at the base of your littlest toe.
In this condition, your fifth or smallest toe slides out of its normal position and leans toward its neighbors. At the same time, the head of the fifth metatarsal slides away from the other bones. The joint where the two meet then grows enlarged and irritated. You end up with a smaller, but possibly just as painful, bony bulge on the outside of your foot.
Where Your Tailor’s Bunion Comes From
Similar to their larger counterparts, bunionettes are the result of faulty foot mechanics. The inherited structure of your foot allows the condition to develop under stress and pressure. Shoes are one of the most common stressors that aggravate this condition. Narrow styles, pointed toe boxes, and even high heels stress the ball of the foot and worsen the bump. Preexisting foot problems and even repetitive foot motions can also contribute to the problem.
As the condition progresses, the bump grows bigger. This can make it increasingly difficult to wear certain shoes. Often the bulge will appear red and aggravated. It may be swollen as well. The pain is usually at its worst when your foot is under pressure and improves when you take off your footwear.
Easing the Pain and Correcting the Bump
Most bunionettes are easy to diagnose. Dr. Brandon S. Percival, Dr. Julie A. Percival, and Dr. William Harris will evaluate your feet and investigate the bump at the base of your fifth toe. Our team may use diagnostic images to check for complications in your forefoot and other lower limb issues. Once we have a clearer picture of your foot needs, we can help you begin treatment.
Conservative care is usually all you need to alleviate pain and slow or stop the problem’s progression. Changing your shoes is an important step. Avoid high heels and pointy-toed styles. Stick to models with low heels and wide toe boxes. Your footwear shouldn’t squeeze your feet, either, since this can aggravate the problem. Supporting your feet with orthotics may also help redirect pressure away from the bump. Padding the outside of the foot will reduce the damaging friction. We might recommend direct injections of medication for persistent pain. If your tailor’s bunion is getting worse, or nothing helps the pain, you might actually need surgery to correct the problem.
Bunionettes may be less common than ordinary bunions, but that doesn’t mean caring for them is any less important. Let our team at Carolina Podiatry Group help you alleviate your foot pain. Make an appointment with us today by calling: (803) 285-1411 for the Lancaster office and (803) 548-FEET for the Indian Land location. You can also use our online form.