Upon hearing the term bunionette, it is natural to think it is simply a smaller bunion. From a certain perspective, that isn’t terribly far from the truth, but there is a more significant difference than only the size of these ailments. The major difference comes down to where each one is located on your foot.

Bunion vs. Bunionette

Little brothers and sisters sometimes live in the shadow of their bigger siblings. This is very much like the case with bunionettes and bunions. The more well-known toe deformity is the bunion, which happens when your big toe is forced, often by tight or ill-fitting footwear, toward the second toe. This disrupts your toe’s alignment with the metatarsal bone and results in a painful bump where the bone sticks out at the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ) on the inside edge of your foot. The MTPJ is the joint where your toe meets the foot, so the pain and discomfort is increased during time spent walking or especially running.

Whereas a bunion forms on the inside, a bunionette develops on the outer edge of your foot. The condition is similar in nature because your fifth toe is being forced inward and experiences the same displacement of bone. This all leads to a bony protrusion jutting out at that particular MTPJ. In modern cases, these deformities are often caused by ill-fitting or tight shoes, but there is a historical reasoning behind the nickname that the condition still holds to this day. Once upon a time, tailors sat on floors while sewing and would have their legs crossed. From this position, the outside edges of their feet pressed down against the floor and the resulting pressure would cause, what they called, a “tailor’s bunion.”

Beyond the Bony Bump: Symptoms to Note

The definitive symptom of a tailor’s bunion is essentially the bony protrusion jutting out at the MTPJ joint on the outside edge of your foot. It is a possibility that such a condition results from a fracture or a bone spur, so be sure to make an appointment with Capital District Podiatry to receive an accurate diagnosis. Other symptoms that can accompany a tailor’s bunion include redness, swelling, inflammation, and pain. In all likelihood, wearing narrow, tight shoes that do not have a wide, deep toe box will be rather painful with this condition.

Where Did It Come From?

There are different reasons why a bunionette might have developed, including your choice in shoes. Women are more likely to develop either version of this toe deformity and this is explained by the fact that high-heeled, tight-fitting shoes can cause them. The “super cute” shoes that many women choose to wear have tight, pointed ends, which squish the toes together in an unnatural manner.

Choice in footwear can be a root cause, but other factors do exist that can result in a tailor’s bunion, including getting older and genetics. Growing older comes into play because feet widen as we age. Wearing the same sized shoes as when your feet were narrower will lead to problems. Your foot’s structure can also contribute to developing a tailor’s bunion when your bodyweight is unevenly distributed and forces your fifth toe inwards.

Treatment Options

The first step in addressing this issue is calling and scheduling an appointment with Capital District Podiatry. Confirming that the condition is a bunionette, and not an issue that requires different treatment methods, is rather important. Once we have diagnosed it, we will then establish an effective treatment plan to eliminate the discomfort and pain.

Treatment will include ensuring that you have shoes that offer deep, wide toe boxes for optimal comfort and to keep pressure off the area. Shoes that are stretchable provide additional room for your toes and women should not wear high heels on a frequent basis. Padding, icing, and anti-inflammatory medication are treatment options we may recommend. It is rare, but severe cases may require surgery.

Capital District Podiatry has the experts you need to treat a difficult bunion or bunionette condition. Contact our practice by calling (518) 273-0053 or using our online form to make an appointment at either our Troy or Clifton Park, NY offices.


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763 Hoosick Rd.
Troy, NY 12180

Clifton Park Office

855 Route 146 | Suite 150
Clifton Park, NY 12065

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