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Martin Foot & Ankle

Bunionette: Trouble with Toe Alignment

Pressure and friction can be destructive forces. Given enough time, they can wear down boulders. They can create problems for your feet as well, especially when they encourage conditions like a bunionette and make it harder to wear shoes.

Littlest Toe Bulge

Often known as a tailor’s bunion, this deformity is a bony bulge at the base of your fifth toe where the digit meets its metatarsal. Like a regular bunion, the problem develops when your toe and metatarsal slide out of alignment. In this case, your littlest digit leans toward its neighbors, while your fifth metatarsal moves away, causing the head of the bone to bulge outward. The bump then rubs against your footwear and becomes aggravated and painful.

Typically, this occurs because of your foot structure or an inherited biomechanical issue that allows your metatarsal and toe to displace from their correct positions. Then additional forces, like narrow or pointed shoes, influence the foot structure and exacerbate the problem. Over time, the friction on the bump enlarges it. Frequently, you develop calluses over the irritated area. The worse the spot becomes, the more difficult it is to wear certain shoes and walk around.

Reducing the Pressure for Pain Relief

Bunionette and BunionFortunately, pain from a bunionette can usually be managed using noninvasive methods. You will need to have the condition properly diagnosed by a podiatrist to rule out other possible causes of a bump on your toe and treat the issue accurately. Our team here at Martin Foot and Ankle will carefully examine your lower limbs. We may request images like X-rays to identify the extent of the condition and help determine the best methods for treatment as well.

Treatment for a tailor’s bunion generally revolves around removing pressure from the bump and decreasing the irritation there. The most important step will be adjusting your footwear to minimize friction on the outside of the foot. Avoid narrow shoes, particularly those with pointed toe boxes or that force your weight onto the ball of the foot, like high heels. Padding the bony prominence helps minimize the problem by adding a layer of protection between your foot and your shoes.

You may need orthotics to help correct biomechanical issues that allow the condition to develop in the first place. Decreasing the inflammation is another important factor in relieving the pain. Icing the bump helps discourage irritation in the joint. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications as well. Sometimes physical therapy or direct injections of medicine also improve the discomfort. If your bulge remains painful, you may need surgery to actually correct the issue with the alignment of your bones.

A bunionette isn’t as common as a regular bunion, but it can be just as uncomfortable. It also makes most shoes difficult to wear. With a little intentional intervention, however, you can reduce your symptoms and restore your lower limbs. Contact Martin Foot and Ankle in Hanover, Lancaster, Lititz and York, PA, for a podiatry appointment to take care of your foot pain. Call (717) 757-3537 or follow us on Facebook and Twitter!