Tailor's bunion is a problem associated with the bone structure of the foot. In this condition, the fifth metatarsal bone of the foot drifts away from its normal position.
Tailor’s Bunion, also referred to as bunionette is a deformity that occurs near the little toe. The 5 long bones located in our foot are known as metatarsals. In this condition, the fifth metatarsal bone, that is situated at the base of the little toe, is enlarged and points outwards. The occurrence of bunionette is more common in women than men. This deformity is caused due to a faulty bone structure within the foot. The tendons and ligaments of the foot hold the bones and joints tightly together. However, people with tailor’s bunion have more flexible ligaments that allows the fifth metatarsal to project slightly outwards.
Bunionette near the 5th metatarsal head has often been attributed to choosing wrong footwear. The trend of wearing tight shoes, which is commonly observed in women, puts excessive strain at the base of 5th toe. Even buying shoes that have a narrow toe box, does compress the toes, subjecting excessive pressure on the 5th metatarsal bone. In short, high heels or any other ill-fitting shoe can literally crunch the toes. This extra pressure initially reddens the area that is close to the base of the 5th toe. Over time, with constant pressure, the head of the 5th metatarsal bone develops a bump.
The formation of bony lump indicates the dislocation of two bones – the little toe and the 5th metatarsal toe. Due to this abnormal displacement, the joint that connects these two bones also gets inflamed. Thus, the bunion (protrusion) that we see at the base of the little toe is actually a combination of joint inflammation and excessive bone growth. Bunions are painful, especially when going for a walk. As the footwear rub against the protrusion, the pain can become unbearable at times.
The joint at the base of small toe contains a tiny fluid filled sac (bursa) that prevents bones from rubbing against each other. In tailor’s bunion, this bursa sac also gets inflamed, thus interfering with the normal working of the joints.
It is observed that over 50% of women in United States develop bunion, as they prefer to use high heels. In a bid to stand out from the crowd or make a fashion statement, women wear shoes with high heels. However, the problem with these shoes is that the toe box is crammed, providing hardly any space for the toes to move freely. Prolonged use of these shoes misaligns the metatarsal bone, eventually causing bunions.
So, the best way to deal with tailor’s bunion is by changing footwear. This conservative form of treatment works quite well in reducing pain. A person suffering from bunionette should wear sandals or shoes with a wider toe box. Using flatter shoes with a rounded toe box is also a good option. Wearing pointed toe and high heel shoes, can worsen the condition as these shoes apply undue pressure on the little toe. So, discard those bad shoes and opt for good fitting ones. Corticosteroid injections are often recommended to treat the inflammation. Injection therapy has also been beneficial in decreasing the discomfort associated with bunionette. Some doctors also advice bunionette pads to be placed on the affected area to reduce the pain. Another medical approach involves applying an ice pack to decrease the inflammation. Anti-inflammatory oral medicines such as aspirin and ibuprofen, can also help ease discomfort. The dosage of these medicines should be taken as prescribed, as excessive usage can lead to stomach irritation.
Other non-surgical options include the use of custom orthotic devices that help in controlling abnormal forefoot functions. When the foot does not function properly, it gives rise to pain in certain areas. These devices support the ligaments and realign the bone structure of the foot, thus relieving the pain. In other words, these devices try to re-balance the foot and help overcome the factors that cause this deformity. As a result, the condition does not aggravate and the pain gradually subsides. These devices act like shock absorbers and provide comfort to the user.
If the above non-surgical methods do not show any improvement in the symptoms associated with this condition, then surgery is the last resort to correct this bone problem. The surgical procedure used to correct the bone structure is called tailor’s bunionectomy. Surgery is done in order to realign the bone so that it does not protrude outside the foot. The aim is to reduce the enlarged prominence that surrounds the fifth metatarsal. In this procedure, a small portion of the metatarsal is removed or a surgical fracture is created to realign the bone. After surgery, the patient is advised to wear a surgical shoe and reduce activities like walking and standing, to get the desired outcome.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.