Also known as Tailor’s bunion, a bunionette is an inflamed area that is positioned on the base of the small toe. This is in contrast to a bunion, which is usually larger and is situated on the big toe. In both cases, the condition involves inflammation of both the bone and surrounding tissue on the toe.
There are several reasons why bunionettes may appear. One has to do with the structure of the foot itself. If the little toe tends to curve inward, there is a better chance of the tissue and bone will become inflamed, especially if the individual wears shoes that are constructed with pointed toes.
A bunionette deformity can also develop due to accidents that damage the metatarsal bones of the foot. When the damage causes the bones to protrude rather than flow in the same general direction, the potential for inflammation to develop is increased, especially when any type of closed footwear is used. In cases that are extreme, it may be necessary to employ bunionette surgery to correct the protrusion and eliminate the pain.
Fortunately, many cases where a bunionette is present can be handled without resorting to surgery. In situations where the protrusion is slight, it may be possible to avoid inflammation by simply switching to shoes that are designed with a wide toe box rather than a pointed toe. Avoiding the wearing of footwear with high heels will also ease pressure on the little toe and minimize the discomfort that comes along with the inflammation.
Padding is also an important tool in easing the pain generated by the appearance of a bunionette. When placed properly, light padding helps to ease the abrasion on the area and minimize the risks of swelling and inflammation. Many people use a combination of padding and boxed toe shoes in order to ease the discomfort of bunionettes.
When the inflammation is substantial, it may be possible to obtain relief by applying ice directly to the bunionette. A doctor may also recommend the use of oral medications to calm the inflammation and ease the accompanying pain. In more serious cases, a physician may administer injections of cortiosteroids in order to reduce the swelling and bring about some relief.
For the most part, surgery is only employed as a last resort. Health care professionals usually prefer to go with noninvasive forms of bunionette treatment when and as possible. If a combination of medication, changing the type of shoes that are worn, or using ice or padding from time to time can effectively contain the condition, it is possible to live with an occasional outbreak of bunionettes and manage the condition with little to no pain.