Tailor's bunion, also referred to as a bunionette, is a bunion-like condition located near the little toe. It is characterized as being a painful inflammation of the fifth metatarsal bone on the base of the smallest toe. The little toe may take on a red color and swelling.
Though named because it was once thought to be a condition that only tailors suffered, modern medicine has identified that the condition can be traced back to genes and a foot's mechanical structure- not occupation type. Tailor's bunion begins to present itself wihen the the fifth metatarsal bone begins to point outward and the little toe starts to position itself inward. These significant alignment changes in the foot result in inflammation. This condition can be exacerbated by wearing shoes that constantly rub against and apply pressure to the area.
A visual examination can confirm the presence of tailor's bunion. However, doctors may also order X-rays to examine the internal structure of the foot and determine the deformity's stage. Closer examination can also reveal if the tailor's bunion is actually a bony spur.
Tailor's bunion can be treated using non-invasive therapies. Footwear with wide toe boxes can be chosen so as to relieve the bunion; high heels and shoes with narrow toe boxes will have to be avoided. Similarly, a patient may choose to stretch his or her shoes or invest in orthotics to help realign the foot. To manage pain, bunionette pads may be positioned over the tailor's bunion. Inflammations on tailor's bunions can be reduced by employing an ice pack over the bunion and excess pain may also subside by using this method in conjunction with ibuprofen, aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Treatment may also include oral prescription medications intended to reduce pain and inflammation. Corticosteroid injections can be prescribed to combat inflammation. For patients who experience prolonged pain and who do not seem to respond to the above therapies, surgery may be recommended by doctors. A doctor will usually examine a patient's age, activity level and X-ray results while determining if the patient is a good candidate for surgery.
Though surgeries for tailor's bunion are very successful, recovery periods vary between patients due to individual circumstances and the specific procedures performed. Cast boots put into place after surgery may require that a patient be careful when placing excess weight on the foot and may result in a patient having to use crutches. However, some procedures allow a patient to walk on his own almost immediately after surgery.