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Dallas Podiatry Works

What is a Bunionette?

Many people are familiar with bunions, those painful bumps on the side of your foot, but have never heard of a similar foot deformity called a bunionette.  Many years ago, this condition was referred to as a “tailor’s bunion.”  This reference was made, because tailors would sit on the floor with their legs crossed to do their work.  Over time, a small bump would develop on the outside of their foot just behind the small toe, arising from friction between their foot and the floor .  It is actually the metatarsal bone of the forefoot that is affected.  The bunionette is less common than a bunion, however, the symptoms are very much alike.

What causes a bunionette?

BunionetteYou don’t have to be a tailor to develop this type of bunion.  In fact, for most people this is something that is passed on from a family member.  Poor foot structure results in the affected bone moving out of its normal place which in turn, moves the little toe in toward the other toes. Other causes are an enlarged or angled 5th metatarsal bone

Is a bump the only symptom?

The bump is just one visible symptom.  Many shoes do not accommodate bunionettes well, and the constant friction can redden and irritate the deformity.  Pain and swelling can also occur in the adjacent joint with this foot condition.  It is important to monitor your feet closely for infection if the skin over the bump breaks due to rubbing against your shoe.

I have a bump by my small toe, but how do I know if it is a bunionette? 

We can diagnose this condition by examining your foot.  In order to understand the cause and severity, we will obtain an X-ray.  Gathering this information will help us make the best decision regarding your treatment plan.

I’m worried that I will have to have surgery.  What non-surgical treatment options are available?

There are several ways that a bunionette can be addressed without surgery.  They include:

Orthotics:  Custom orthotics are used to improve the distribution of weight across the foot.  This helps to take pressure off of injured areas of the foot, so that the deformity is less irritated.

New Shoes:  Shop for shoes that will accommodate the bunionette.  A toe box that is wider will reduce friction against the bump, which will help to reduce pain and irritation.  Avoiding trends like high-heels and pointy-toed shoes can also help.

Injections and other medications:  Corticosteroid shots or over-the-counter Ibuprofen may be recommended to aid in reducing the swelling and inflammation of the bump.

Ice:  Place ice in a towel, and hold it on the affected area to reduce swelling. 

Pads:  Made specifically for this condition, bunionette pads protect the area from friction that occurs when it rubs against the shoe.

What if I have to have surgery?

We will assess your unique situation to determine if surgery is necessary.  Typically this is only considered if foot pain does not decrease with more conservative measures, such as those listed above.  The cause and severity of your bunionette will determine what procedures are used to correct it.  Other information that is taken into account includes how old you are, how active you are, and other medical conditions.  

Do you have a bump by your small toe?  Is wearing shoes a pain?  Set up an appointment today with Drs. Brook, Northcutt, Arroyo or Baca today to learn more about your foot health.  

 


Dr. Joel W. Brook
Dr. Joel Brook is a board-certified podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Dallas Podiatry Works in TX.