Bunions are perhaps one of the most infamous of foot problems. Television and movies have made bunions the butt of many a joke, but to people suffering from bunion pain it’s no joking matter. While bunions are easy to spot and diagnose there’s a similar problem that often goes untreated, the bunions cousin, the tailor’s bunion, or bunionette.
A bunionette is very much like a bunion, it is a bony protuberance on the side of the foot, but unlike a bunion, which occurs at the big toe joint, a bunionette occurs on the pinky toe. While the bunionette is not as common as a bunion, it comes from the same in cause and carries the same symptoms as a bunion.
The name “tailor’s bunion” comes from old world shoemakers. They would sit cross legged for long periods of time, causing a callous on the outside of the foot. But the real cause of the tailor’s bunion is not repetitive actions, rather it is caused by heredity. The underlying biomechanics of the foot are flawed, which causes the 5th metatarsal (the bone right behind the toe) to protrude outward, causing the pinky toe to pitch inwards toward the center of the body. Sometimes a tailor’s bunion can be caused by a bone spur (an accumulation of calcium on the bone) but this is less common.
The bunionette can become irritated, inflamed and painful, especially if the patient wears tight close toed shoes. Usually your podiatrist will recommend shoes with a wider toe box to make room for the bunionette. Frequently a podiatrist may suggest an orthotic insert, to help take pressure from the body off of the offending joint. Meanwhile to deal with the pain caused by a bunionette your podiatrist may prescribe an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen, or may recommend an injection of a corticosteroid at the site of the bunionette to help relieve pain. If all of these conservative efforts fail to alleviate pain then surgery may be necessary.