An old saying declares that the best gifts come in small packages, but although a bunionette is smaller, it certainly isn’t “better.” Most people are familiar with bunions, but you may not know about their smaller counterparts. This deformity, while little, can still cause you pain and make it difficult to wear many types of shoes.
The Other Side of the Foot
Much like a regular bunion, a bunionette is a bulging joint on the outside of your foot, where the metatarsals and toes meet. Unlike a regular bunion, it is not at the base of the big toe—it’s at the base of the fifth, or littlest, digit. This small deformity is often called a tailor’s bunion, because it used to be common among tailors centuries ago, as a result of sitting day after day with feet crossed and that joint rubbing against the floor.
The problem develops when something causes the joint to protrude outward, along with pressure on the outside of the foot. Generally this is a faulty biomechanical problem, which can be inherited. Pressure on the outside of the forefoot causes the toe to tilt inward, while the head of the metatarsal bulges outward. Often the toe slips under its neighbor. Any friction on the side of the foot can contribute to the problem, too. Shoes are particularly tricky. Narrow or pointed styles rub against the joint and aggravate it, causing pain and making the deformity worse.
Signs to Watch For
Like normal bunions, a bunionette is a progressive problem that will deteriorate slowly over time. The symptoms usually start small. You may notice redness and swelling around the protruding joint. Over time, the bulge tends to get bigger and more pronounced as the toe tilts more inward. You may be prone to blisters or calluses in that area. The bump can make it difficult, or at least uncomfortable, to wear certain shoes—particularly kinds that are too tight, narrow, or pointed around the toes.
How to Relieve Your Tailor’s Bunion Pain
Fortunately, with the right treatment, you can alleviate pain from a bunionette and keep the problem from getting worse. Dr. David Laurino, Dr. Antonius Su, and Dr. Darick Freestone will evaluate the bump to rule out other possible issues and determine how serious it is. Then we’ll help you begin treatment.
Conservative methods are tried first, and tend to be successful. You’ll need to reduce the pressure and friction against the little bump. Avoid shoes with narrow or pointed toe boxes. Steer clear of high heels as well, since the pressure on your forefoot can make the condition worse. Instead, select models with a wide toe box and support through your midfoot. Padding the bump may help as well, since it provides a layer of protection between your skin and the shoe. You may benefit from custom orthotics, too, since these can help correct biomechanical problems that may have contributed to the condition.
Icing the bump may help alleviate some pain by discouraging inflammation. We might recommend certain anti-inflammatory medications as well. Stretching can help reduce some discomfort. Direct injections could alleviate persistent pain. If the problem gets worse or doesn’t respond to the noninvasive treatment, you may need surgery.
Bunionettes may be smaller than bunions, but they can be just as painful. Let Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona help you eliminate your discomfort. It’s not normal for feet to be in pain, so don’t live like it is. Call one of our offices to make an appointment: (480) 963-9000 for Chandler, or (480) 981-1800 for Gilbert. You can also use the web contact form, or fax either location: (480) 963-0375 for Chandler, or (480) 981-0229 for Gilbert.