tailors bunion

Figure 1: Tailor’s Bunion

A tailor’s bunion or bunionette, figure 1, is a bunion that occurs by the little toe. This is much like the bunion that occurs on the big toe joint, except that it occurs on the 5th toe joint. It is called a tailor’s bunion because many years ago tailors whould work while sitting on the ground with their legs crossed and the side of the foot pressing into the ground. This pressure led to an elargment of the toe and the bone below it (the fifth metatarsal head) would cause a painful bump to form. Tailor’s bunions can be very painful, but we can usually provide you with pain relief without resorting to surgery. Make an appointment today to see us in our Seattle clinic. 

A tailor’s bunion is actually a rather involved deformity that includes:

  • A bump on the outside of the foot (at the 5th metatarsal head)

  • Angulation outward of the 5th metatarsal bone

  • Rotating inward of the little toe


Tailor’s bunions often occur when the ligaments that hold the bones of the foot together are more flexible than normal. This allows the fifth metatarsal bone to slowly move outward and the little toe to turn in toward the 4th toe.

Common causes of the foot being too flexible include:

  • Genetics

  • Flat feet

  • Weakening of ligaments and muscles as we age

  • Injury

Tailor’s Bunions can be made worse by:

  • High heels

  • Arthritis of the 5th toe joint

  • Injury to the outside of the foot

  • Excessive Pronation


In the long term, the goal of treatment is to reduce pressure on the 5th metatarsal bone. The best way to accomplish this is to use proper orthotics to rebalance the foot and to reduce the effects of the excessive flexibility that leads to the bunionette.

The gold-standard of medical treatment is to use custom orthotics. If properly prescribed, orthotics can act to:

  • Reduce pressure on the 5th metatarsal head

  • Rebalance the foot

  • Reduce the effects of excessive ligament flexibility

  • Slow progression of the deformity

  • Eliminate or reduce pain

Orthotics are often a very effective treatment in reducing pain associated with a tailor’s bunion. Keep in mind, however, that orthotics cannot make the bunion smaller. For an evaluation, call today for an appointment in our Seattle office.

Shoes are also an important part of treatment. A good shoe store can help you find shoes that will not put pressure on the 5th metatarsal head. Sometimes stretching the shoe over the painful area can be very helpful.

We believe surgery should be a last resort, but In cases where conservative treatment does not relieve your symptoms, surgery can be a very effective solution. Tailor’s bunion surgery is similar in many ways to standard bunion surgery, so for detailed information on our approach to surgery please read our bunion surgery page. For detailed information on how we would approach surgery for your foot, call today for a surgical consultation.

Don’t let your tailor’s bunions get worse. Early treatment can prevent future problems. Call today for an appointment in our Seattle office.

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