Bunionette - Tailor's Bunion

What Causes that Painful Bump Below Your Pinkie Toe?

Woman suffering from foot pain.
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A bunionette is a problem similar to a bunion, except that a bunionette occurs on the outside of the foot. Bunionettes are also called Tailor's bunions; they are commonly seen in patients who also have bunions on the inside of their foot.

Who Gets a Bunionette?

Like bunions, most bunionettes are caused by footwear problems. Specifically. wearing footwear that constricts the forefoot such as high-heeled shoes or shoes with narrow, pointed toes is the biggest risk factor for developing a bunion or bunionette.

Therefore, bunionettes are much more common in women than in men, although cowboy boots can be to blame for both men and women.

Causes of Bunionette

When looking at bunionettes, doctors separate the cause of this condition into intrinsic and extrinsic causes:

  • Intrinsic Causes of Bunionette
    Intrinsic causes of bunionettes are congenital problems that lead to a bowing of the long bones of the forefoot. In patients with this condition, the bone projects slightly outward causing the bunionette. Only a small percentage of patients with bunionettes are due to intrinsic causes.
  • Extrinsic Causes of Bunionette
    Extrinsic bunionettes are caused by external pressure on the forefoot. This pressure is usually due to footwear, but can have other causes. The name Tailor's bunion, also used to refer to a bunionette, comes from the fact that tailors used to have this condition because of the posture they held their foot while working. Bunionettes are most commonly due to extrinsic pressure caused by footwear.

    What are the Symptoms of a Bunionette?

    The symptoms of a bunionette are pain due to pressure over the prominence on the outside of the foot. Patients usually only have symptoms when wearing shoes that rub on the irritated prominence. You probably don't have pain when you switch to shoes with a wide toe box or you are barefoot or in sandals or flip flops.

    Bunionettes can cause more significant problems if the irritation rubs the skin, potentially causing breaks in the skin. In these patients, infection can get under the skin and cause further problems. This is especially a concern if you have diabetes.

    What is the Treatment of a Bunionette?

    Treatment of a bunionette should always focus on non-surgical options. These include changing footwear, wearing shoes with a wider toebox or wearing sandals, and padding the bunionette. When you look for the right footwear, make sure the ball of your foot fits well in the widest part of the shoe. This may mean you need to buy a larger size of shoe or a wide shoe. Cushions can help, but they need to be used with shoes that have enough width in the toe area so the extra padding doesn't leave your foot even more constricted.

    Surgery for Bunionette

    In the few patients who have persistent symptoms despite these treatments, surgical correction of the bunionette is an option.

    Surgery is performed to realign the bone so that it does not point outwards. This is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, but it can have a long recovery period.


    Brown, C. "Bunionettes" eMedicine, July 13, 2004.

    Steven L. Haddad, Bunions, OrthoInfo, American Acadmeny of Orthopaedic Surgeons, February, 2016.

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