While a regular bunion describes a bony bump at the big toe joint, a tailor’s bunion is the same protrusion but affecting the little toe. It gets its name because a long time ago, tailors used to sit cross-legged on the floor when working, which would constantly rub the outsides of their feet against the shoes and ground, which would cause small, painful bunions on the outside of the fifth toe.
Along with the bony protrusion that can rub against our shoes and cause pain, bunions also change the alignment of the joint and can compromise the function of our toes, which is to help provide balance and support when we walk. As bunions progressively worsen over time, meaning that the joint can progress from being red and slightly swollen to a significant protrusion with the little toe angled in towards the other toes, it’s important to manage bunions early to help stop them from worsening, or at least slowing the rate at which they do.
Tailor’s bunions are caused by pressure or friction (rubbing) against the joint. This can be a result of:
Treating a tailor’s bunion is done according to the level of flexibility available at the joint. For some, their bunion will be rigid and fixed in place, in which case the goal of the treatment is to help offload pressure away from the joint, treat any symptoms like corns that have developed on the side of the bunion, help prevent it from worsening, and keep you as comfortable as possible while you walk.
For bunions that are still flexible, it may be possible to help reduce the severity of the bunion as well as help prevent it from worsening, or slow it’s progress, by using:
We also remove any corns or callus that has built up around the bunion, helping reduce pain and pressure on the joint.
We consider surgery for bunions as a last resort, as opposed to a first-line treatment. This is because there are many safe, non-surgical options to help manage your bunion that work for many people. Surgery is an invasive procedure that carries risk, has a significant recovery time, has no guaranteed results, and places a big what if on your feet – as it’s impossible to know exactly how the procedure will alter your foot biomechanics and if your feet will start compensating in other painful ways.