Hurray, it’s National Pinky day! If you have a young daughter in your house like I do, you likely celebrate the color year-round so today, I’d like to turn your focus to your pink-y toe (get it?)
Most of us think of bunions as bony protuberances that develop beneath your big toe, but did you know that these painful growths can show up beneath your pinky toe, too?
When you develop a prominence at the base of your little toe (5th metatarsal) instead of beneath your big toe, the growth is called a tailor’s bunion or a bunionette. The condition got its name from the old days when tailors sat around all day with their legs crossed and the outside edge of their feet rubbing against the ground. That habit could lead to a bunion forming at the base of the little toe.
You’ll know you’re starting to develop a tailor’s bunion if you see redness or swelling at the base of your pinky toe; you will likely also experience pain in the area. The symptoms will be most likely to show up when you’re wearing shoes that rub against the bony growth, irritating the skin and causing the inflammation.
Bunionettes, like bunions, often develop because of a genetic predisposition towards weak foot mechanics. That inherited trait can allow for changes in the bony framework of your foot, causing your fifth metatarsal bone to push outward while your pinky toe moves inward.
In my Houston podiatry office, I start treating Tailor’s bunions the same way I treat other bunions—non-surgically. We begin by changing the shoes you wear to make sure all your pairs have a wide toe box that can prevent additional pressure on the bunion. I also place pads on the bunionette to reduce pain and inflammation, and fit many patients with custom orthotics to redistribute pressure on their feet. For some patients, surgery might become necessary to relieve the pain of a bunionette, but that’s always a last resort for me.
Don’t assume that problems with your little toe won’t cause you major pain. Left untreated, tailor’s bunions will get worse, not better over time, so if you suspect that one is developing beneath your pinky toe, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider as soon as possible.