You’ve probably heard of bunions, those uncomfortable (and sometimes
painful) bumps that grow on feet. You may not have heard of a bunionette,
though. Despite the name, the bunionette is not a cute little bunion that
dolls develop on their adorable teeny feet. Bunionettes are very much real-
life problems. They develop at the place where the fifth metatarsal bone
(metatarsals are the long bones in the middle of your foot that connect to
your toes) and your pinky toe meet. In fact, this type of bunion is often
referred to as a Tailor’s bunion, since tailors (a long time ago) used to
sit with the outside edges of their feet rubbing against the ground, which
sometimes resulted in a bunionette.
Like most bunions, bunionettes are enlargements of the joint where the
little toe meets the metatarsal bone. A bony growth or bone spur can also
develop. This enlargement makes the foot deform; basically the toe and the
metatarsal bone start orienting in the wrong direction, and the joint area
pokes further and further out towards the outside of the foot. This creates
a funky sort of bump on the outside of your foot just below the pinky toe.
The main problem is that this bump can start to rub against the insides of
your shoes (especially those wretched tight ones with the pointy toes),
which can cause significant discomfort or pain, and make the whole problem
Bunionettes are often caused by existing deformities in the foot, which may
be inherited genetically (just don’t use your bunionette to give your
mother a guilt trip), or may have arisen during development, or come about
because of an injury.
The most obvious symptom of a bunionette is the protrusion you can see and
feel at the bottom of your little toe. It’ll probably be firm to the touch.
However, in addition to this, you may notice that the enlargement becomes
swollen, red, and painful, especially when you wear the high heels that you
should have given up years ago. You may also find it difficult or painful
to move your little toe around.
When you start experiencing some of the above symptoms, it’s probably a
good idea to go in to see your podiatrist, who can help you relieve the
pain from your bunionette. He or she will likely make the diagnosis by
looking over your foot visually and examining the area by feeling it. An X-
ray may be necessary to find out exactly how bad the problem is.
The main problem with bunionettes is that they rub against shoes, and can
make walking very painful. In order to reduce the pain associated with your
bunionette, your podiatrist may try treating it by using padding (often non-
medicated bunion patches) to reduce that painful rubbing. Your podiatrist
may also strongly suggest that you change the type of shoes you wear. If
you find yourself in heels higher than an inch or two, it’s probably time
to give them up (unless you really want to give yourself really big,
unsightly bumps and cripple yourself with pain, of course). Make sure the
toe end of your shoes (toe box) accommodates easy movement of your toes. It
should never be tight. (So toss out those shoes with the pointy toes, too.
The fashion industry isn’t concerned with the welfare of your feet, so you
definitely don’t owe it any loyalty.)
The above changes may help a lot. To relieve pain further, your podiatrist
may have you try anti-inflammatory medication (like ibuprofen, or an
injected anti-inflammatory like cortisone), and ice to reduce swelling
(always use a thin towel between the ice and your skin, and don’t leave ice
on for more than twenty minutes at a time).
If you’re still experiencing pain from your bunionette even after these
measures, then surgery may be the best option for you. In fact, surgeries
on bunionettes are usually pretty successful at getting rid of the pain
(after healing from the surgery itself, of course). Depending on how severe
the deformity in the joint is, your surgeon may simply get rid of the bony
growth on the joint, or may have to cut and realign the bones involved in
order to get things fixed up.
No matter the treatment, following the advice and instructions of your
podiatrist will help you kick your bunionette problem for good.
Call 719-543-2476 today to schedule your appointment!