Tailor’s bunion is a foot disorder that occurs when an abnormal bump forms at the connection point between a foot bone called a metatarsal and the near end of a pinky toe. Doctors also sometimes called this problem a bunionette. Depending on the individual, the effects of a tailor’s bunion can range from mild to severe. Diagnosis for the condition is typically relatively straightforward. Treatments vary according to the severity of the condition, as well as the specific details of the patient’s situation.

Tailor’s bunions get their name from clothing tailors in previous centuries, whose outer foot surfaces rubbed against the floor when they worked while sitting cross-legged. They differ from the classic toe deformity called simply a bunion, which appears on the big toe, not the pinky toe. Tailor’s bunions sometimes occur when genetic problems in the foot make the tip of the pinky toe turn inward while the base of the toe juts outward. Some people also develop a form of the condition when a bone spur grows on the metatarsal near the pinky. In both of these cases, symptoms appear when rubbing from a shoe puts pressure on the bunionette. In addition to a bump at the base of the pinky toe, symptoms of a tailor’s bunion include pain, redness and swelling in the skin around the bump. 

A podiatrist, or foot doctor, can usually diagnose a tailor’s bunion just by observing the telltale bump on the side of a patient’s foot. In order to determine the underlying cause of the condition, a patient’s podiatrist may decide to get a better view of his or her affected foot with an X-ray.

People with relatively mild cases of tailor’s bunion don’t typically need surgery to address their condition. Nonsurgical options for treatment of the condition include wearing shoes that provide more room in the area around the pinky toes; using special pads that protect the affected area from rubbing and/or pressure; use of ice or another cold source to reduce any related swelling; and using foot inserts called orthotics to adjust the position of the affected foot inside a shoe. In some cases, a podiatrist may recommend oral medications called NSAIDs (short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), to reduce inflammation-related pain, or inject the affected toe with an anti-inflammatory medication called a corticosteroid.

Sometimes, relief of a severe tailor’s bunion requires podiatry surgery. In addition to severity of symptoms, foot surgeons determine the need for this type of treatment according to factors that include the details provided by an X-ray, and the patient’s general activity level and age. Techniques used during surgery include altering the position of the metatarsal; shaving away the bump on the metatarsal’s surface and altering the position of the tendon that holds the metatarsal in place. In addition to relieving the symptoms of a tailor’s bunion, these procedures act as a form of cosmetic foot surgery.

Podiatrists and foot surgeons provide a range of services in addition to diagnosis and treatment of tailor’s bunions and classic bunions. Common treatments include laser fungal nail treatment and surgical repair of a type of foot deformity called hammertoe.