Most bunions affect the hallux or big toe. However, that doesn’t mean that bunions can’t affect other parts of your foot. Bunionettes, also known as tailor’s bunions, affect the fifth metatarsal bone, more commonly known as the little toe. Asides from the location of a tailor’s bunion, they are very similar to regular bunions.
A bunionette or tailor’s bunion develops when the fifth metatarsophalangeal joint angles outwards, while the tip of the little toe is pushed towards the rest of the toes. In past centuries, this condition was thought to be associated with the way tailors sat –crossed-legged, with the edge of their feet rubbing on the ground-, which is why it is sometimes referred to as a tailor’s bunion. The bony protrusion that is caused by the bunionette tends to become red, painful, and swollen.
There can be many factors involved in the development of a tailor’s bunion. In some cases, congenital defects in the mechanical structure of the foot make it more likely to develop this condition. Shoes with a narrow toe box can aggravate the problem, making it easier for the little toe to be pushed inwards and causing the bunionette. Sometimes, a tailor’s bunion is actually a bony growth on the side of the fifth metatarsal bone.
A tailor’s bunion develops over an extended period of time, but it can quickly become painful. Having this condition can make it extremely difficult to fit into your shoes and mobilize without feeling pain or discomfort. Many people worry over the cosmetic repercussions; it’s easy to feel self-conscious while barefoot or wearing sandals when we have any sort of foot abnormality.
The treatment strategies for a tailor bunion are similar to those used for regular bunions. Non-surgical treatments seek to relieve symptoms and halt the progression of the bunion. These treatments include wearing appropriate footwear, bunion pads, over-the-counter or custom orthotics, and using ice or NSAIDs to relieve pain and swelling.
Surgical procedures are usually reserved for severe cases of bunionettes. This includes bunions that cause intense pain, making the patient unable to walk and carry out their usual daily routine. Surgery is also an option when the patient has tried conservative methods without experiencing symptomatic relief. Surgical treatment is also the best option for those who wish to eliminate the deformity caused by the tailor’s bunion.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a tailor’s bunion, make sure to visit your podiatrist before trying any type of treatment. Since the causes of this condition can be multifactorial, your podiatrist will be able to determine the best course of action to eliminate your symptoms and prevent reoccurrence.