Little Bunionettes, Big Pain

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You may be so busy keeping an eye on that bump along the inside of your foot by your big toe that you don’t even realize it has a twin (or little sister) on the other side—by your littlest toe. These deformities are called bunionettes and, like a bunion, they form when your little toe is subject to undue pressure. They can become red, swollen, and very painful, making it hard to wear shoes and move about normally.

Envisioning Crooked Bones

An X-ray will show how your bones have moved out of position. You have five long metatarsals in your foot that attach to your toe bones at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints. When bunionettes form, the little toe bone is angled in toward the other toes, and the MTP joint bends toward the outside of your foot, causing a shallow V-shape. The point of the V is what you see as the bump, and it can be made even bigger by swelling or calluses.

Realizing the Risks

Several factors make it more likely that you will develop this deformity. The first is being a woman, which may be related to the fact that women often wear shoes that pinch or put pressure on their feet. (Men’s shoes are much more likely to conform to their foot shape and size.)

The second is heredity. If bunionettes appear in your family history, you are also more likely to develop one. Your inherited foot structure may have characteristics like flat feet or high arches that cause your feet to move in unusual ways. This puts more pressure on certain bones and can move them out of alignment.

Third, these biomechanical issues are aggravated if you engage in activities that involve repetitive action, such as running. If your bones move in the wrong way when you walk, think about how going for a 3-mile run, or crouching on your feet when you garden, or standing all day at work would increase the problem.

Finally, diseases such as arthritis can cause degeneration in your cartilage and lead to altered foot structure and misaligned bones.

Taking the Cure

The best cure is prevention, so do whatever you can to decrease pressure on your toes. Wear roomy shoes, and check that they offer the right support for your foot structure, so your weight is distributed more evenly over your sole. Treat any underlying conditions like arthritis or flat feet to head off trouble as well.

If a bunionette has developed, we can recommend the proper pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication to relieve your symptoms. We will also explain how to apply moleskin patches or donuts that can relieve pressure on the painful bump. You can also apply an ice pack (use thin cloth between your skin and the ice) and elevate your foot to reduce swelling and pain. Other possible treatments include physiotherapy, stretches, and injections for the pain. Many times, having your arch type evaluated and using custom designed orthotics can help correct biomechanical issues.

Bunionettes will not improve on their own and may get worse. It is best to seek treatment as soon as you notice one starting to form. Don’t hesitate to contact Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, for help. It is easier for Chiropodist Tony Abbott to treat the bump on your foot before it causes so much pain that it limits your activity. Call (705) 444-9929 today or schedule an appointment on our website to find the answer that’s right for you.