BUNIONETTE

A bunionette is a bump that occurs near the base of the little toe on the foot. They are not as common as bunions, a similar condition that develops near the base of the big toe. However, people with bunionettes often have bunions as well.

Bunionettes are also known as tailor bunions because years ago, tailors sat cross-legged all day, putting pressure on the side of their foot. Today, pressure from poor fitting shoes is a common cause of bunionettes, as well as inherited bone structure problems. There are a variety of non-surgical options for treating bunionettes. If such treatments fail, surgery may be necessary.

Anatomy

The base of the bone in your little toe (proximal phalanx) meets with the head of the metatarsal bone in your foot to form the metatarsophalangeal joint. Ligaments connect the two bones together. Tendons attach muscles to the bones and allow movement. The metatarsophalangeal joint bends whenever you walk or move your toe.

Causes

The most frequent cause of bunionettes is poor fitting shoes that put pressure on the foot structures. Shoes with tight narrow toes can cause bunionettes, and for this reason, the condition is more likely to develop in women than in men. Additionally, some people have an inherited foot structure with long bones that tend to bow and form bunionettes.

A bunionette occurs when the bones at the base of the little toe move out of position. Long-term irritation causes an enlargement that looks like a bump on the little toe.

Symptoms

A bunionette causes a bump at the base of your little toe on the side of your foot. The bump can be red, swollen, and painful. Your skin may become irritated and break open or bleed. Infections are a concern, especially for people with diabetes. Walking, bending your toe, or wearing shoes may make your symptoms worse.

Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose a bunionette after reviewing your medical history and examining your foot. X-rays may be taken to show the alignment and condition of your bones. You should tell your doctor about your symptoms and concerns.

Treatment

There are a variety of non-surgical treatments for bunionettes. Simply changing shoes can help. Select shoes with a wide toe area and low heels. Avoid high heels and pointed toe shoes. Pads can help to reduce pressure and pain.

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. Your doctor may inject corticosteroid medication to reduce inflammation around the joint. You may also receive instructions for applying ice packs to the area.

Surgery

If non-surgical treatments fail, surgery may be necessary to allow pain-free movement and function. Bunionette surgery is used to realign the bones and joint. During surgery, the toe is placed in the correct position and the bump is removed. Following surgery, the bones are held in position with surgical hardware while they heal. Bunionette surgery is usually an outpatient procedure.

Recovery

You should keep your foot elevated for the first few days following your surgery, and apply ice packs as directed. You will need to temporarily use crutches, a walker, or cane as you gradually increase the amount of weight you can put on your foot. It can take weeks to recover from bunionette surgery, and your doctor will let you know what to expect.

Prevention

You may prevent bunionettes by wearing shoes that fit correctly. Select wide toe, low heel shoes.