Tailor’s Bunion (Bunionette)

Dr. Corey Fox
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Director of Massapequa Podiatry Associates

A tailor’s bunion (also known as a bunionette), does not get as much attention as its big relative, the bunion. However, that does not mean they can’t be just as bothersome and painful to deal with!

A bunionette requires just as much management and care as a bunion, and our experts at Massapequa Podiatry Associates are more than happy to provide the care needed to our patients.

tailor's bunion

What is a Tailor’s Bunion?

Whereas a bunion is a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe as it drifts out of alignment, a tailor’s bunion is a similar situation on the opposite side of the foot.

As the deformity progresses, the fifth toe gradually shifts inward against its neighboring toe and the protrusion at the base of the joint grows more pronounced. 

In addition to the bump and misaligned toe, symptoms of a tailor’s bunion can include:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Irritation, corns, and/or calluses as the toe or bump rubs against footwear or neighboring toes

What Causes a Tailor’s Bunion?

The condition has received the common name “tailor’s bunion” because tailors used to sit in a cross-legged way that would place their body weight against the side of their smallest toe, which is believed to have made the condition more prevalent among them.

But how you sit is not the only potential factor in the development of a bunionette. 

Many are born with inherited abnormalities and instabilities in their foot structure that can make the shifting of their toe more likely. It is also possible that past trauma against the foot and toes can create such instability.

There is some debate as to whether wearing tight and pointed shoes can either cause a tailor’s bunion or merely contribute to an existing instability becoming worse. In either regard, such footwear is not healthy for your toes!

Treating and Managing a Tailor’s Bunion

Just like a bunion, the first recommendation for treating a tailor’s bunion will likely not be a surgical correction.

If we can use conservative treatments to effectively manage the symptoms that are causing a patient trouble and help slow or stop the bunionette from becoming worse, that is often a preferable route over surgery.

Following a thorough evaluation of your foot and symptoms, we may recommend a treatment plan including one or more of the following:

  • Changes to Footwear. Shoes with a wider toe box and better overall support of the foot can help keep excess stress away from your unstable joint.
  • Padding, Taping, and/or Splinting. Simple measures to add support and cushioning around the toe can have a significant impact on reducing friction and preventing further progression.
  • Stretching and Conditioning Exercises. Prescribing an exercise regimen that focuses on flexibility, range of motion, and strengthening the supporting tissues around the toe joints.
  • Custom Orthotics. Especially made orthotic inserts can accommodate the special needs of your foot, providing better weight distribution and further protection of the toe.
  • Laser Therapy. The use of this advanced treatment may help relieve bunion pain.  
  • Medication. Pain relievers and over-the-counter drugs may help with pain relief and reduce inflammation. Injectable treatment might also be occasionally recommended.

If pain and other troubles continue despite the best efforts of conservative treatments, surgery might then become a consideration. Our recommendations for a surgical procedure will largely depend on your medical history, specific needs, and the severity of your tailor’s bunion. 

We will always happily answer any questions you may have about our recommendations, and you will always have the final say as to how you wish to proceed with your care.

Your Experts in Bunionette Treatment

Whether a tailor’s bunion, bunion, or other toe deformity is causing you trouble daily, we can help you find the best ways to take back your comfort and return to doing the things you love with much less (or even no) pain.

Schedule an appointment by calling our office or by filling out our online contact form. We’ll be happy to help you.