The word ‘bunion’ is typically used to describe the enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe. Not as well known is a bunion that appears on the other side of the foot at the base of the fifth or little toe. This is called a bunionette or a Tailor’s bunion. It gets called a Tailor’s bunion as it used to be common in the good old fashioned Tailor’s who used to sit cross legged when they were working, putting a lot of pressure on the base of the fifth toe or the fifth metatarsophalangeal joint.
Cause of a Tailors Bunion:
The cause of a tailor bunion is pretty much too much pressure from poorly fitting shoes in those with a genetic or hereditary predisposition. The poor fitting shoe simply push the little toe over and irritate the bone and soft tissues on the lateral side of that fifth metatarsophalangeal joint.
Symptoms of a Tailor’s Bunion:
A Tailor’s bunion is usually obvious (see the picture above). The joint at the base of the fifth toe is enlarged. The footwear will irritate the bunion and make it painful. That continued irritation from the shoe can cause a bursitis to develop and the joint can become quite painful. A painful corn or callus may also develop from the continued shoe pressure and friction.
There also may be symptoms or a corn between the 4th and 5th toe from the pressure between the toes.
Treatment of a Tailor’s Bunion:
There are essentially 3 approaches to a Tailor’s bunion: shoes, padding and surgery.
As the shoes are a large part of the cause of the problem, they are also a large part of the solution to the problem. You simply need wider fitting shoes that do not add to the pressure on the bunion and avoid higher heel shoes. Wearing open shoes or even flip flops (eg Archies) take away all pressure on the joint and painful area.
Various types of padding can be used. Pads can be made from podiatry felt and cut to shape and size to get pressure off the Tailor’s bunion. The felt padding can shaped like a doughnut to get pressure off the bony lump and be stuck on the foot or on the inside of the shoe. There are the silicone gel protector pads that go over the bunion to protect it from friction and rubbing. The Tailors bunion corrector pads are the ones that try to correct the position of the 5th toe and relieve pressure from between the toes if that is where the symptoms are.
While the above measures can mostly stop a Tailor’s bunion from being painful, they generally do not get rid of it. Those measure will reduce any soft tissue swelling, but they don’t get rid of the bony enlargement. Only surgery can do that. These surgeries may entail a simple removal of the enlarged bit of bone and/or osteotomies to straighten the alignment of the fifth metatarsal bone.
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