Common Terms for Little Bunion
A bunionette is a little bump at the base of the little toe at the fifth metatarsal joint. It will show up at this spot on the outside of the little toe, as shown in the diagram to the right.
You may call this bunion a “pinky toe bunion” because of its location on your foot. A bunionette or pinky toe bunion has another name as well: tailor’s bunion. All three common terms are used in this article.
Where Did the Name “Tailor’s Bunion” Come From?
The name “tailor’s bunion” is derived from the Renaissance era which began in the early 1400s in Europe. This dynamic period saw the beginnings of the fashion industry as we know it today.
Before this time, only the very highest levels of society had the luxury of viewing clothes as adornment and not just as protection from the elements. The growth of the upper and middle classes during the Renaissance and the creative explosion that characterized this era resulted in the development of the occupation of tailor, or one who sewed patterns of cloth into clothes.
So you see the development of a bunionette is very similar to the development of a bunion on the big toe. The same conditions of too much pressure, too much squeezing together of the toes because there isn’t enough room, are the primary causes of pinky toe bunions. The fact is that shoes that give your forefoot plenty of room are extremely important to the prevention of bunions. Your toes are not supposed to be squeezed tightly together. In our western society, women favor shoes that do exactly that. Of course, men’s shoes do not do that, or rather don’t to nearly the same degree. This is why the prevalence of bunions is so much higher in women than in men; some estimates say as much as 10 times higher.
For a more extensive article about the causes of bunions, read the home page of this site.
In addition, the same hereditary issues such as flat feet discussed on the home page can lead to the development of a tailor’s bunion as well as one on the big toe. These hereditary issues, which should be discussed with a foot specialist, present an tendency or likelihood for the development of this disorder, making it doubly important that shoes with sufficient room are always worn. A woman may be born with a certain foot structure that predisposes her to develop bunions, but she may go through her whole life without experiencing any foot problems at all. But if as an adult she wears too tight shoes too much of the time, a bunion is very likely to develop.
If you are experiencing any kind of redness, swelling, tenderness, or pain around the small toe, especially at the metatarsal joint at the base of the little toe, you may very well have a tailor’s bunion. For some people a tailor’s bunion isn’t really a problem if they are going barefoot (although how often does anyone do that, except at home), or if they wear wide sandals that are open around the toes. But it isn’t always practical to wear sandals, is it? Most of the time, you just need to wear regular shoes. And when you do so, pinky toe pain can be a dull ache that you try to ignore, or it can be an intense pain that is impossible to ignore. But, just like bunions on the big toe, pinky toe bunions or tailor’s bunions are a progressive deformity, meaning that they will only get worse over time if not attended to. Unfortunately, they do not go away by themselves.
This means that have to take protective measures for your feet right away if you suspect the development of a bunion, no matter which toe it is on. Failing to do so can not only make your bunion pain worse, but can aggravate your condition and make it progress faster.
Bunionette treatment begins with the use of pads, bunion guards, or shields to help with the pain. Bunion guards are inexpensive and easy to use, and will provide varying degrees of pain relief, depending on the severity of your condition.
In addition, in order to reduce the swelling of the pinky toe bunion and alleviate pain, your doctor may prescribe oral anti-inflammatory medications or injections of corticosteroids into the toe. Injections of corticosteroids are not a pleasant experience, but if you are at this point, you will want to try everything before resorting to foot surgery.
If changing shoes is not an adequate solution, and bunion guards, cushions, or medications do not provide enough help and relief, then bunion surgery will be the next option to seriously consider.
Surgery for a tailor’s bunion is similar to regular bunion surgery. Also, the same concerns apply for recovery for a bunionette as they do for surgery for a big toe bunion. Keeping the foot elevated and the swelling down with ice will be essential, or your recovery from surgery could be extended to several months.
Bunion surgery, whether for a bunion on your big toe or on your pinky toe, is also known as a “bunionectomy,” which literally means the surgical removal of a bunion.