A tailor's bunion can be a painful and debilitating foot condition

Published: 07th April 2010
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A tailor's bunion is a foot condition which presents as a bony growth on the little toe, at the joint with the foot. It is usually caused by wearing inappropriate footwear, which places stress on the metatarsophalangeal joint, which becomes displaced over time and often involves excess bone growth restricting the movement of the toe.



The tailors' bunion is similar to a big toe bunion and shares the same causes. Tailors bunions can be painful, and are made worse by wearing tight fitting shoes. Any shoe which cramps the feet with an inadequate toe box will displace the toes from their natural positions causing stresses to be placed on the joints. The combination of a small toe box and an elevated heel will make the problem worse. Elevated heels serve t increase the weight taken on the delicate joints of the toes and will aggravate the condition, and most likely cause the condition to develop in the first place.



The bunions form when the fifth metatarsal of the foot becomes displaced. The tailor's bunion is so called due to its high prevalence with tailor's that were well known for sitting cross-legged all day whilst they made their clothes. When sitting cross-legged for long periods, the weight is placed on the joints of the little toe, which saw tailor's bunions being formed on both feet.



Some bone conditions such as osteoarthritis and congenital bone defects can be to blame, it is inappropriate footwear which is the major cause, and women are by far the greatest sufferers of the condition due to wearing high heeled shoes, and over time cause tailors bunion



Tailor's bunion sufferers have the problem of finding shoes which will fit. As the bunion develops, the head of the fifth metatarsal bone displaces outwards, causing a bony lump on the side of the foot. This can make choosing footwear difficult, due to the pressure placed on the joint and the associated pain, or just the fact that shoes no longer fit. Specialist bunion shoes then need to be worn, so that there is no further deterioration of the condition. Any shoe which has a flexible upper and a wide toe box will give some toe pain relief.



Tailors bunion pain can be eased by soaking the feet in hot water or resting the feet, however since tailor's bunions are often inflamed, anti-inflammatory drugs help to relieve pain, with Ibuprofen being a good choice. In order to help the toes get back into a normal position, bunion night splints are one of the best treatments. They serve to keep the toes in the correct position throughout the night, to help keep the toe straight and prevent further deterioration, whilst getting the toe back to its normal position. Specific tailors bunion splints are required since big toe bunion splints correct problems on this inside of the foot.



In severe cases, where the deformity has been allowed to progress, or where there is chronic pain, tailors bunion surgery is required. This surgically corrects the problem and realigns the little toe.



Since bunion formation involves the growth of excess bone in many cases, it is sometimes necessary to remove excess bone and to repair the joint. AS such the surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and can leave patients with associated pain following surgery. Recovery time is approximately 2 weeks, with sometime on crutches to prevent damage t the bones and joint whilst they heal. It is generally recommended for only the most severe cases due to the risk from general anaesthetic. In the majority of causes, non-surgical correction is highly effective.


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