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What Is Tailor's Bunion And What Are The Causes?

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Are you experiencing pain and discomfort on the outside of your foot near your little toe? It could be a tailor's bunion, also known as a bunionette. In this article, we will explore what a tailor's bunion is and what causes it. A tailor's bunion is a bony bump that forms on the outside of the foot at the base of the little toe. It occurs when the fifth metatarsal bone in the foot pushes outward, leading to inflammation, pain, and swelling. This condition can make it challenging to find comfortable footwear and may affect your daily activities. There are several possible causes of a tailor's bunion. One common cause is wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes, which puts pressure on the foot and forces the bone to protrude. Additionally, genetics can play a role, as some people are born with a predisposition to developing bunions. Understanding the causes of a tailor's bunion is the first step towards finding effective treatment and prevention options. In the rest of this article, we will delve deeper into these causes and explore potential solutions to alleviate your discomfort and improve your foot health.

Understanding The Anatomy Of The Foot

Our feet, though often taken for granted, are marvels of engineering. Each foot is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, and a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments – all working together to support our weight, propel us forward, and maintain balance. Understanding this intricate anatomy can shed light on how foot problems arise and how to best care for these remarkable structures.

The foot can be broadly divided into three sections: the hindfoot, midfoot, and forefoot. The hindfoot, which includes the heel bone (calcaneus) and the ankle joint, acts as the foundation and connects the foot to the leg. The midfoot, a complex of five tarsal bones, provides stability and flexibility during movement. Finally, the forefoot consists of the metatarsals (long bones in the ball of the foot) and the phalanges (toe bones). This section is crucial for absorbing impact and propelling us forward when walking or running. By appreciating the unique roles of each component, we gain a deeper appreciation for the foot's remarkable functionality.

What Causes Tailor's Bunion?

Tailor's bunions, those bony bumps on the outside of your pinky toe, can be a real pain (quite literally). While not as common as bunions on the big toe, they can cause discomfort and limit your ability to wear certain shoes. But what exactly causes these bony protrusions? Here's a breakdown of the main culprits:

Shoe Choice: A significant contributor to tailor's bunions is footwear that crowds your toes. Shoes with narrow toe boxes or high heels force your toes to squeeze together, putting undue pressure on the pinky toe joint. This pressure can cause the bone at the base of the pinky toe (metatarsal) to angle outwards, forming the characteristic bunion.

Foot Mechanics: The way your foot naturally rolls inwards (pronation) during walking or running can also play a role. Excessive pronation can cause instability in the pinky toe joint, again leading to the outward angulation of the metatarsal bone.

Other Factors: Genetics can predispose you to developing tailor's bunions, especially if other family members have them. Certain inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can also contribute to the formation of bunions.


Risk Factors For Developing Tailor's Bunion

While certain shoe styles are notorious culprits behind tailor's bunions, footwear isn't the sole factor at play. Here's a look at some lesser-known risk factors that can increase your susceptibility to these pinky toe bumps:

Foot Mechanics and Anatomy: The way your foot is naturally built can play a significant role. People with flat feet or loose ligaments are more prone to excessive pronation, which puts undue stress on the pinky toe joint. Additionally, having a fifth metatarsal bone that's abnormally short or angled outwards can create a predisposition for tailor's bunions to develop.

Heredity: Just like many other health conditions, genetics can play a hand in tailor's bunions. If you have a family history of bunions, you're more likely to develop them yourself. This is because you may inherit certain foot structures or biomechanical weaknesses that make you more susceptible.

Symptoms Of Tailor's Bunion

Tailor's bunions, those bony bumps on the outside of your pinky toe, often announce their presence quite clearly. But what are the telltale signs to watch out for? Here's a breakdown of the common symptoms:

Pain and Tenderness: The most obvious symptom is pain and tenderness at the bony bump on the outside of your pinky toe. This discomfort is typically worse when wearing shoes, especially those that rub against the bunion. Pressure from tight-fitting footwear can irritate the surrounding soft tissues, leading to inflammation and increased pain.

Visual Cues: Beyond the bump itself, tailor's bunions often present with visual changes in your pinky toe. The toe may become angled inwards, pointing towards your other toes. In some cases, the skin over the bunion can become red, swollen, or develop calluses due to constant friction from shoes. These visual cues, coupled with pain, can be a clear indication of a tailor's bunion.

Treatment Options For Tailor's Bunion

Tailor's bunions, those bony protrusions on your pinky toe, can be a source of pain and frustration. While they can't be completely reversed, there are effective treatment options available to manage discomfort and prevent further progression. Here's a look at some of the key strategies:

Comfort First: The foundation of any treatment plan is addressing the pain and inflammation. Choosing shoes with wide toe boxes and avoiding high heels is crucial. Padding the bunion with soft inserts or bunion guards can also provide relief by reducing friction against footwear. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen can help manage discomfort.

Supportive Measures: For some individuals, custom orthotics can be a game-changer. These shoe inserts, molded to your specific foot anatomy, provide targeted support and help correct any biomechanical imbalances that might be contributing to the bunion. Physical therapy exercises can also be beneficial, focusing on strengthening the muscles that support the foot and improving overall flexibility.

Considering Surgery: In severe cases where conservative measures fail to provide adequate relief, surgery may be an option. Tailor's bunionectomy procedures involve removing or realigning the affected bone to reduce the prominence of the bump and correct the angulation of the pinky toe. However, surgery is typically a last resort due to potential risks and recovery time.

By working with a podiatrist or healthcare professional, you can explore the most suitable treatment approach for your specific needs. Remember, early intervention is key to managing tailor's bunions effectively and preventing them from significantly impacting your daily life.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics

Tailor's bunions, those bony bumps on the outside of your pinky toe, can be a real pain. They not only cause discomfort, but they can also limit your shoe choices. While there's no magic bullet for a complete reversal, Bilt Labs custom orthotics can be a powerful tool in your fight against tailor's bunion woes.

Here's how Bilt Labs custom orthotics can provide targeted relief:

  • Addressing the Root Cause: Tailor's bunions often develop due to improper foot mechanics, particularly excessive pronation. Bilt Labs orthotics are crafted from personalized molds of your feet, ensuring a perfect fit that corrects your unique alignment. This reduces stress on the pinky toe joint, a key factor in preventing further progression of the bunion.

  • Strategic Support: Bilt Labs offers two orthotic options to cater to your lifestyle. Both feature built-in arch support, crucial for stabilizing the foot and reducing pressure on the pinky toe. The Active option provides additional support and a more rigid structure, ideal for those who remain active despite their bunion.

By addressing the biomechanical imbalances that contribute to tailor's bunions and providing targeted pressure relief, Bilt Labs custom orthotics can significantly improve your comfort and potentially slow the progression of the bunion. They can also help you wear a wider variety of shoes without sacrificing support.

Bilt Labs Custom Orthotics


While tailor's bunions can be a nuisance, understanding the causes empowers you to take preventative measures. Choosing wider footwear, maintaining a healthy weight, and considering custom orthotics can all play a role in keeping your pinky toes happy and pain-free. If you're experiencing symptoms, don't hesitate to consult a podiatrist for a personalized evaluation and treatment plan. With proactive care, you can minimize the discomfort and manage tailor's bunions effectively. Take our free quiz today to find out which orthotic type is best for your feet.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health. If you have any questions about your health or are experiencing any medical problems, please contact your doctor or other healthcare provider immediately. Do not delay seeking medical attention based on the information provided in this article.