As we’ve discussed on the blog at length in the past, a bunion is a malformation of the joint of your big toe, and most people can spot a bunion forming on the inner side of their foot. But what’s going on in your foot if you’re noticing a bump or protrusion on the outer side of your foot near the lower joint on your pinky toe? Is that a bunion, or is that something else.

When a bump forms on this side of your foot, it’s known as a Tailor’s bunion or a bunionette. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at why bunionettes develop, if they’re a problem if they aren’t causing any symptoms, and how you can treat the issue.

Bunionette Causes & Symptoms

This likely won’t come as a surprise, but bunionettes are typically brought on by the same underlying causes that result in bunion formation, with the main reason being ill-fitting footwear. Shoes that are too tight, especially those with a narrow toe box, put lateral pressure on the toe joints and angle the toes inwards, which can cause the joint to eventually shift outwards. This causes the toes to start to point inward and the joint shifts outward, causing this visible bump or protrusion on the outside of your foot.

Because your pinky toe joint is smaller than your big toe joint, bunionette symptoms tend to be more mild, but that doesn’t mean they can just be ignored. Untreated bunionettes only tend to get worse, so don’t ignore the issue, especially if it has started to become symptomatic or the bump is getting larger.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain on the outside of the foot
  • Redness
  • A visible bump or protrusion on the side of the pinky toe joint
  • Cracking or irritated skin near the bump
  • Discomfort in the area when wearing shoes

Diagnosing And Treating Bunionettes

Because they are visible to the naked eye, bunionettes are typically very easy to diagnose with the help of a physical exam. Your foot specialist may order X-rays just to get a better look at the degree of the joint deformity, but imaging tests aren’t always necessary like they are for some other foot conditions.

Unlike bunions, which can be managed with conservative or operative treatments, bunionettes are almost exclusively treated with non-operative methods. Rarely does the pinky joint become so deformed that surgery becomes the best option, but it’s definitely possible if you continue wearing ill-fitting shoes after the bunionette has formed. Conservative treatment involves transitioning to a shoe that is wider at the toes, wearing sandals so that there is no pressure on the outside of the pinky toe (weather permitting in the Northeast!), bunion pads to help cushion and protect the area and anti-inflammatory medications to help ease discomfort.

If you’ve noticed that you’ve developed a small protrusion on the outside of your pinky toe joint, consider bringing it up to your general practitioner at your next wellness exam, but if it’s causing symptoms, set up an appointment with a foot specialist to help correct the issue. And if you’re dealing with the more common type of bunion on the big toe joint, we can help with that too! For more information or for help with your foot or ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald’s office today!

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