THE OTHER BUNION

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This common, seated foot position is how the “tailor’s bunion” got its name. Does your baby toe hurt when you sit this way? If so, the problem is probably shoes that are too narrow for your feet.

Does your “baby” toe—the littlest piggy—hurt? If so, it may be a bunion.

A bunion may not be what you think—or where you expect it.

Most of us think of a bunion as prominent bony growth at the joint of the big toe. This is the most familiar form of a bunion, known as “hallux valgus”. But But I also treat what is sometimes called a “tailor’s bunion”, or a bunionette, which develops on the outside edge of the foot instead of at the joint of the big toe.

The “tailor’s bunion” receives its whimsical name from the days when tailors traditionally sat cross-legged on the floor to fit and hem garments. A lifetime of sitting and sewing in this position put pressure on the outside of the foot, causing a pressure-spot and callus at the bottom of the fifth toe.

This area where the small toe connects to the foot is called the metatarsophalangeal joint, or MTP joint. Constant pressure produces a callus and a thickening of the tissues over the bump, leading to a painful knob on the outside of the foot.

Today, most often, this painful condition is caused by the constant pressure of shoes which are too narrow.

The shoes we wear are often not appropriate with the needs of our feet. For instance, with age, it is perfectly normal for the foot to widen and flatten. This in itself is not unhealthy or unusual. But this normal expansion does mean that we need to ex-examine our shoe size at least every few years. Some people insist on buying the shoe size they wore when they were 20 years old, just for their ego. The result is often a bunion of some kind.

At any size and any age, I also recommend the unique, over-the-counter corrective orthotic called DoctorInsole™.  Just slipping a pair of these low-cost orthotics into any pair of shoes helps to stabilize the heel, prevent injuries, and relieve foot pain.

Today, we can correct the so-called tailor’s bunion, as well as the more familiar big-toe bunion, with one of several minimally invasive procedures that have the patient up and around and pain-free within two weeks. But there is one caveat: buy shoes that fit.

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