“Judge me by my size, do you?” asks Yoda to Luke. He may have been trying to illustrate how the great power in the Force can be wielded by even the smallest creatures, but he may as well have been talking about a tailor’s bunion, also known as a bunionette. The “-ette” makes it sound cute and cuddly, too small to worry about, but these bumps can lead to major pain if they aren’t treated properly and are allowed to keep growing.
The condition is similar to a normal bunion in almost every respect except for one: it affects your pinky toe, rather than your big toe. Your fifth digit pushes into your fourth, enlarging the joint at the base of your little toe and knocking it out of alignment so it produces a visible bump. Like its bigger brother, a tailor’s bunion can be caused or catalyzed by any number of foot problems, though usually it traces back to a structural deformity that causes pressure to be distributed unevenly across the foot, slowly forcing your fifth toe out of alignment. The result can be pain, tenderness, swelling, and ultimately limitations in movement.
Fortunately, conservative treatments can often reduce discomfort or even stop the growth of a bunionette before symptoms even occur. First, choose shoes that offer lots of room in the toe box and don’t rub against the bump. Definitely avoid high heels and pointed shoes! Second, when symptoms flare up, an oral over-the-counter anti-inflammatory can provide some temporary relief, as can elevating your foot and using an ice pack. Various footwear modifications can also make a difference—a little padding over the knob can protect sensitive tissues, and custom orthotics can help correct structural defects causing the uneven pressure on your metatarsals.
In some cases, we may recommend a therapy where cortisone is injected directly into the inflamed tissues. Laser therapy, a non-invasive approach using our high-tech laser to reduce swelling, may also provide relief. The last resort is surgery, should your problems be severe and uncorrectable by other means. The precise procedure used and the resulting recovery period will depend on your specific case.
If you’re experiencing foot pain from this bump, be sure to give Dr. Harvey Danciger a call. Our office is located in Desert Springs, CA. You can reach us through this website or by calling (760) 568-0108.
Image by tome213 on rgbstock.com.