Bunionettes: Bunions on Baby Toes

What is a bunionette?bunionette

Bunions don’t just happen with big toes – they can happen to baby toes, too! Bony bumps found on the outside of your little toes are called bunionettes. They are basically a miniature version of a bunion, but while they may be smaller in stature, these bony protrusions can still pack a painful punch!

Just as bunions occur due to a misaligned big toe joint, bunionettes occur in the joint at the base of your baby toe, forcing the toe to drift inward and the joint to jut out – looking just like a bunion, and unfortunately feeling like one, as well. Symptoms include redness, swelling, pain, and difficulty wearing shoes as the bony protrusion progresses.

What is a tailor’s bunion?

Sometimes bunionettes are also referred to as tailor’s bunions – the two terms are synonymous. The reason for this is that historically, tailors seemed to sport these baby toe bunions quite often. This is thought to be due to the fact that tailors used to sit cross-legged on the floor as they mended clothing, placing pressure on the outside of their feet and pushing their baby toes out of alignment – the beginnings of a bunionette (a.k.a. a tailor’s bunion)!

What causes this condition?

As mentioned above, the main contributor to a bunionette forming is pressure. Nowadays, that pressure tends to come from ill-fitting, tight, and narrow shoes rather than the floor! Of course, just as with bunions, an inherited foot structure typically causes vulnerability to the condition in the first place. Add tight shoes that squish and push against baby toes to the mix, and you exasperate the problem by encouraging the joint to become misaligned. Again, similar to bunions, these pesky protrusions will get bigger and more painful over time. They can also result from arthritis or injury, but no matter the cause, the painful symptoms remain the same – and will get worse!

How are these mini-bunions treated?

Causes and symptoms aren’t the only things bunionettes have in common with their big brother bunions! Treatment for these baby toe bumps is similar as well. A switch to wider shoes, with plenty of wiggle room for toes, and a low heel can help to alleviate discomfort and slow progression. In addition, stretches, protective padding, night splints to hold the toe in proper position, and orthotic shoe inserts that help direct pressure away from your little toe, can all prove to be helpful. When these methods are not enough to relieve painful symptoms, however, surgery may need to be considered to correct the misaligned joint.

What should I do if I think a bunionette is forming?

You can try the conservative methods we’ve listed here, but it’s best to let us assess your feet first and determine the appropriate treatment plan moving forward. You can find out more, ask questions, or make an appointment by contacting our Bloomington, IN office at (812) 333-4422. You can also reach us online by filling out our convenient contact form.

Don’t let its small size fool you –a bunionette on your baby toe can be a big problem. Get the help you need today!