The name of a notorious pinky toe bunion finds its origins in a centuries-old profession.
Tailor’s Bunions are the kind that formed on the feet of tailors as they worked, sitting with their legs crossed and the outside edges of their feet brushing against the ground.
When the tailor’s pinky toe connected with the floor beneath it, the friction would cause a bump to form – over time – at the toe’s base.
Nowadays, these sorts of abrasions are known as Tailor’s Bunions, or bunionettes, due to their diminutive size. However, just because these bunions tend to appear on pinky toes doesn’t mean you should underestimate them.
If you have a Tailor’s Bunion, or suspect you do, then you’ve come to the right place.
Here, we’ll look at what these bunions are, how to avoid getting them, how to treat them, and what invasive and non-invasive medical solutions are at your disposal. Let’s dive in!
- 1 What’s a Tailor’s Bunion? The Ins and Outs
- 2 Causes
- 3 Symptoms
- 4 The Difference Between a Bunion and a Blister
- 5 Diagnosis
- 6 Potential Complications
- 7 Tailor’s Bunion Treatment
- 8 How to Avoid Tailor’s Bunions
- 9 Surgery
What’s a Tailor’s Bunion? The Ins and Outs
Tailor’s Bunions, or Tailor’s toe, are nowhere near as common as other foot-based abrasions. Only about four percent of participants in an American College of Rheumatology study reported ever developing a Tailor’s Bunion.
In comparison, the same study noted that 39 percent of participants had developed a regular bunion at one point in their life.
Tailor’s Bunions are most likely to appear on women’s feet, especially after age 60.
In all other ways, however, these small toe bunions are strikingly similar to their cousins, which focus on other portions of the feet.
Bunions form due to a misalignment of the bones in your foot. Sometimes, your toes can bend inward or toward the other toes on your feet. When this happens, they are exposed to undue friction and a bunion forms.
Normally, bunions grow beneath your big toe. This spot sees a great deal of friction over the course of a day and, as a result, it can begin to swell.
However, there are some ways of sitting or walking that can place greater pressure on the pinky toe, resulting in a Tailor’s Bunion.
Combine this pressure with some of the Tailor Bunion’s other causes – to be explored shortly – and there’s good reason you may see a Tailor’s Bunion appearing near your pinky toe.
Pressure and misaligned bones in your feet are no fun. They’re typically the first signs that alert you of a problem in need of fixing. Because of this, Tailor’s Bunions are often mistaken for pinky toe bone pain due to their location.
If you don’t spend your day on the floor, tailoring clothes, what’s putting extra pressure on your toes? You may have structural abnormalities in your foot, or you may simply be wearing shoes that are too small.
The most common causes of Tailor’s Bunions include:
- An inverted foot.
- Loose ligaments in the foot.
- Tight calf muscles.
- An undersized fifth metatarsal bone.
- Flat feet.
- Foot injuries.
- The excessive wearing of high heels.
- Arthritis of the fifth joint of the foot.
- Pronation, or rolling of the foot.
Some of these factors – such as tight calf muscles or the wearing of high heels – are environmental causes. Inverted feet, pronation, or loose ligaments in the foot, however, cannot be easily controlled and may be the result of genetics.
With that in mind, if you notice that you’re developing a number of Tailor’s Bunions, but you stretch frequently and forgo high heels, your bunions may be a signal of a different kind of problem.
Undersized or arthritic fifth metatarsal bones and flat feet are decidedly genetic in nature. So, in the same way, bunions reveal a tendency toward pronation, bunions can clue you into a physical deformity in your foot.
This may be a condition you seek medical care for or one you simply live with.
It won’t be difficult to notice the development of a bunion on your little toe. Symptoms of Tailor’s Bunions include:
- The appearance of raw or rubbed skin on your pinky toe.
- Little toe pain that doesn’t go away.
- The development of a swollen bump on the outside of your pinky toe.
- Long-lasting physical abrasion on your pinky toe.
- Impaired foot movement.
A Tailor’s Bunion will likely announce itself after a day of hard work or a night spent out in heels. If you get home and notice that your feet hurt, spend time the next day checking in on the state of your foot.
If the friction you’ve experienced is about to create a Tailor’s Bunion, you’ll see a small, round, red spot on your toe.
This spot won’t go away after a few hours, but, instead, will begin to swell. While this bump shouldn’t hurt at first, you may notice pain developing if you leave the bunion alone.
If you start to develop issues moving your toe or foot in general, then it’s wise to schedule an appointment with your general practitioner right away.
The Difference Between a Bunion and a Blister
It’s easy to confuse a bunion with a blister, especially after a night spent in tight shoes.
Blisters, it should be noted, bubble up beneath the surface of the skin and typically contain a pus-like fluid inside them. This fluid may be transparent or yellowed and will drain easily if the bubble is lacerated.
Bunions, specifically Tailor’s Bunions, don’t have this liquid inside of them. Bunions, compared to blisters, look like solid expansions of the skin and bone near your toes.
The shape of your foot in this area will effectively change shape if you’re experiencing the growth of a bunion, even a small one.
That said, you’ll still need to visit the doctor’s office to have an abrasion on your foot diagnosed as a bunion.
It’s typically easy for a medical professional to identify whether or not you’ve developed a bunion. This may involve ordering an x-ray or seeking the opinion of a foot and ankle surgeon.
This will not only confirm the existence of a bunion, but will also indicate how you prompted the growth in the first place.
While Tailor’s Bunions aren’t too terrible on their own, there are chances of things going awry after their development.
You’ll need to either visit a doctor or actively try and reduce the size of the bunion at home. However, you may notice that the pain from your bunion doesn’t subside over time.
If this is the case, then you’ll need to revisit your general practitioner, where you may be recommended to a foot and ankle surgeon.
While surgery is an extreme treatment for Tailor’s Bunions, it is one way to both rid yourself of the bunion and to solve the problem at its core.
Surgeons will be able to lessen your pain, as well as identify the primary cause of your bunion. After that, they can offer you options for tightening the structure of your foot, so as to prevent future bunions from forming.
This video goes into more details on Tailor’s bunion.
Tailor’s Bunion Treatment
What does treatment of your average Tailor’s Bunion look like? That will vary based on your age, activity level, and the specific kind of deformity in your foot that doctors identified via x-ray.
Your doctor will likely treat your bunion with an injection of corticosteroid, which will bring down the swelling in your toe.
If you haven’t yet visited the doctor, or if you were sent home with reassurances, there are a number of lifestyle changes you can undertake. These will help you move around more comfortably, and include the following:
Brace the Bunion
Put a silicone bunion pad over the bunion itself, or pad it from your shoes with a bandage. This will both lessen the amount of pain you’re in while walking, as well as keep the bunion from swelling or rubbing against uncomfortable surfaces.
Failing to protect the bunion from external irritations can make it develop in both pain levels and size.
Wear Flexible, Comfortable Shoes
Forgo high heels or too-tight shoes for the entirety of the time you have a bunion on your toe. You’ll want to invest in a pair of wide-toe box shoes or shoes with W listed alongside their size.
Absolutely do not wear narrow or pointed shoes. When it comes to Tailor’s Bunions, you’ll have to sacrifice aesthetic in order to heal. Don’t worry; once the problem is handled, you can reconsider your fashion choices.
Ice Your Toe
For between five to ten minutes a day, hold an ice pack to your toe.
Do this up to three times a day, and you’ll begin to see some of the bunion’s swelling decrease.
You can also take non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medication to lessen the amount of swelling.
This can be simple, over-the-counter medicine, such as ibuprofen. It’ll help relieve the pain while also halting the bunion’s progress.
Stretch Your Calves
Up to two times a day, stand facing a wall with the tips of your toes pressed against the wall itself.
Take the foot with the bunion on it and step backward, holding the position for between 30 and 60 seconds to stretch your calf muscle. Repeat on the other side, switching back and forth at least twice to loosen your muscles.
Note that these home remedies won’t get rid of your bunion. Instead, they will treat the symptoms. You’ll have to visit your doctor’s local office to rid yourself entirely of a Tailor’s Bunion.
How to Avoid Tailor’s Bunions
Your genetics and physiology may play a role in the likelihood of developing a Tailor’s Bunion. However, there are still behavioral changes you can make to keep one from developing.
Only Wear Heels on Special Occasions
High heels compress your feet and expose your toes not only to those tight confines but to a significant amount of pressure.
Limit how often you wear closed-toe high heel shoes to twice a month, and you should be able to keep a Tailor’s Bunion from forming on your pinky toe.
Find Shoes That Fit
In a similar vein, try not to wear shoes that are too tight or that don’t support your feet.
The friction from a too-tight shoe can be damaging, and you’re more likely to develop a bunion if your shoes are constantly rubbing against your feet.
Pad Existing Bunions
Try to keep a protective layer between any existing bunions you have and the shoes you wear on a daily basis. Even comfortable shoes can exacerbate an existing bunion.
Note that socks don’t count as adequate padding. You’ll need bandages or a bunion-specific shoe pad to limit the bunion’s exposure to additional friction.
You may have to seek out specialized shoe inserts to properly raise your arches and limit the amount of fiction your feet are exposed to on a daily basis.
These orthotic devices can help with pronation and have been known to lift the foot, so that walking is significantly less painful for people with and without Tailor’s Bunions.
If you address your pronation or flat feet before bunions form, you reduce the likelihood that Tailor’s Bunions will appear in the future.
If normal treatment doesn’t get rid of your Tailor’s Bunion, then it’s possible that you’ll need to undergo bunionette surgery.
This surgery is an outpatient procedure, which means that you won’t have to stay in the hospital overnight. You can return home on the same day that the surgery is conducted.
During this surgery, a foot and ankle surgeon will provide you with anesthesia, then shave off the tissue that’s extending from your foot.
Surgeons may also choose to remove part of your fifth metatarsal bone to place the toe in a somewhat normal position. The bone will then be stabilized with a screw or piece of steel wire.
After your surgery takes place, you should avoid putting any weight on the treated foot for between three to twelve weeks.
You may be placed in a splint or a boot, depending on what kind of support your surgeon and attending doctor thinks you need. Recovery may take up to three months.
Here’s a video explaining more details about Bunionette causes and care.
Have you dealt with a Tailor’s Bunion?