The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Is This a Blister? Corn? Callus? It Might Be A Bunionette!

Posted by on Tuesday, July 30th, 2013


This time of year, we’re looking at our feet more carefully. Instead of cramming our tootsies into boots, we’re baring all in sandals. You may notice a little bump on the outside of the little toe. At first glance, you may think it’s a blister, a corn or a callus. Yet, over time, you may notice it’s actually bony in nature and it hurts quite a lot when you wear certain shoes. It’s possible you may have a bunionette or “tailor’s bunion,” as it is sometimes called.

Why Do They Call Bunionettes A “Tailor’s Bunion”?

Centuries ago, tailors sat in a cross-legged position on the floor for many hours as they worked. Their baby toes were pressed against the hard floor, which created pressure on the outermost toes. Over time, painful bumps formed in response to the continued stress. The formation itself is identical to a bunion — except that it affects the pinky, rather than the big toe. Bunionettes are often smaller, but they can enlarge to where it is difficult wearing shoes.

What Causes Bunionettes To Form?

Previously, it was thought that wearing high heel shoes caused bunions and bunionettes. Now we know that is only half-true. Researchers believe that the propensity to develop a bunionette is genetically inherited, as it’s common to see parents and offspring with bunions and bunionettes. Changes in the foot’s bone framework result in the fifth metatarsal bone protruding outward and the little toe moving inward. This natural shift becomes irritated by shoes.

How Does Dr. Geldwert & Staff Treat Bunionettes?

Here at the New York Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, we have several approaches to bunionettes. The first line of treatment is generally more conservative measures, such as changing footwear to a wider, roomier shoe with a smaller heel and extra padding. If a change of shoes does not improve your comfort level and you find it difficult to participate in daily activities, then a minimally invasive surgical procedure can be done on a same-day outpatient basis.

At the very least, bunionette surgery removes protruding inflamed soft tissue. People with a Type 1 Bunionette Deformity will need the bony outgrowth removed as well, which is called a bunionectomy. Patients with a curved fifth toe may need a cut in the bones called an osteotomy. In very rare cases, deformities require correction with wires and surgical screws. Dr. Geldwert will explain which type of procedure is best for your unique situation.
Following the procedure, you may need to wear a surgical boot or splint for three to twelve weeks. Once you are healed, you will be able to wear narrow or heeled shoes again sparingly. Most bunionettes do not come back following surgical intervention, so you can breathe a big sigh of relief! Every year, we treat thousands of patients for bunions and bunionettes. Summer is a great time to focus on your feet and take a step toward better foot health.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.