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Tailor's Bunion

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Summary

A tailor's bunion is a prominence of the lateral aspect of the 5th metatarsal head. The term tailor's bunion was coined in the age when a tailor would sit cross legged on the floor putting up the hem on a coat or dress. The constant pressure applied to the lateral aspect of the foot resulted in pain at the 5th metatarsal head. Tailor's bunions also go by the name bunionette or baby bunion.  Tailor's bunions are found more in women than in men.  The age of onset is from 20 to 60 years of age.

Symptoms

  • Painful prominence on the outside of the foot just proximal to the 5th toe
  • Pain increased with enclosed shoes
  • Onset of pain is dependant upon shoe use
  • Redness and mild swelling are common

Description

Tailor's bunion x-rayA tailor's bunion is a prominence of normal bone at the head of the 5th metatarsal.  The prominence of the 5th metatarsal head becomes more pronounced and painful in enclosed shoes and whenTailor's bunion sitting "Indian style" with the legs crossed and pressure applied to the lateral aspect of the foot.  The name tailor's bunion was coined by the prolonged periods of sitting by tailors as the put up the hem on a skirt or coat.  The shape of the 5th metatarsal can also contribute to the presence of a tailor's bunion. Lateral bowing of the 5th metatarsal can make the forefoot much wider. This irregularly shaped 5th metatarsal can make shoe fitting much more difficult. 

The most common cause of pain with a tailor's bunion is direct pressure to the lateral aspect of the 5th metatarsal head from tight shoes. Pressure from shoes will initially present as a red spot or blister over the 5th metatarsal head. If pressure persists, a bursa can form over the 5th metatarsal head. A bursa is a small fluid filled sac that forms in response to chronic pressure against the bone. Bursitis, or inflammation of the bursa, can significantly increase tailor bunion pain.

Causes and contributing factors

Causes of a tailor's bunion include an enlargement of the 5th metatarsal head or bowing of the 5th metatarsal.  Contribuing factors to the onset of a tailor's bunion include tight shoes.

Differential diagnosis

The differential diagnosis of a tailor's bunion should include;

Arthritis
Bursitis
Gout
Metatarsal fracture
Metatarsalgia
Pseudogout
Septic joint

Treatment

Conservative care for a tailor's bunion includes padding and the use of wider, softer shoes. Shoes can be spot stretched with a ring and ball stretcher to make the area of the shoe adjacent to the tailor's bunion a bit wider (ask yourtailor's_bunion local pedorthist or shoe repair shop for help on spot stretching). Another important consideration is the shape of the toe box of the shoe. When buying shoes, be sure to buy a shoe with a toe box that is shaped like your foot. To be sure the toe box is shaped like your foot, stand in your socks next to the new shoe and compare the shape of your foot and the shape of the toe box. If the two don't seem to be the same shape, then perhaps that's not the right pair of shoes for you.tailor's_bunion x-ray

Planning for surgical correction of a tailor's bunion depends upon the degree to which the 5th metatarsal is bowed. With minimal bowing, a simple partial metatarsal head resection can be performed. A partial metatarsal head resection removes the lateral head of the 5th metatarsal. In cases of mild to moderate bowing, a distal metatarsal osteotomy is performed in conjunction with the partial head resection. Severe cases of bowing require a mid-shaft osteotomy with plating.

Another procedure used to treat a tailor's bunion is a 5th metatarsal head resection. This procedure will result in the shortening of the 5th toe but is great in the patient population who cannot tolerate a period of non-weight bearing or casting. Patients with co-morbidities that may negatively effect the surgery may be candidates for a 5th metatarsal head resection. Examples of these co-morbidities include obesity, severe arthritis, propensity to DVT and gait abnormalities. This is a population of patients that you want to keep as ambulatory as possible to prevent post-op complications. Diabetic patients also do quite well with 5th metatarsal head resections.

Another important consideration in planning tailor's bunion surgery is to be sure that the surgery is consistent with the location of the problem. Pain at the 5th metatarsal head can be due to pressure on the side of the metatarsal head, the bottom of the metatarsal head or both. A partial metatarsal head resection will only address pain on the lateral aspect of the 5th metatarsal head. To treat pain found on both the lateral aspect of the 5th metatarsal head and the bottom of the metatarsal head, a 5th metatarsal osteotomy or metatarsal head resection must be performed.

Tailor's bunion surgery can be performed on an out-patient basis at a hospital or surgery center. The most common anesthesia used for this procedure is a local anesthetic with sedation. General or spinal anesthetics may also be used based upon the surgeon's preference. The procedure takes approximately 20-30 minutes to perform. The post operative course varies based upon the procedure performed. Patients who undergo a partial head resection are able to bear weight on the foot the same day. Partial head resections with an osteotomy may be able to partially bear weight and are likely on crutches for several weeks. Plating for severe deformities will require a hard cast and non-weight bearing for a period of at least 6 weeks. Return to normal shoes and activities also depends upon the choice of procedure.  The long term success of a tailor's bunion procedure is good to excellent.

When to contact your doctor

If wider, softer shoes fail to relieve the symptoms of a tailor's bunion, consult your podiatrist or orthopedist for additional treatment recommendations.

References

References are pending.

Author(s) and date

Dr. Jeffrey OsterThis article was written by Myfootshop.com medical director Jeffrey A. Oster, DPM.  

Competing Interests - None

Peer Reviewed - This article is peer reviewed by an open source editorial board.  Your comments and suggestions to improve this paper are appreciated.

Cite this article as: Oster, Jeffrey. Tailor's Bunion.  http://www.myfootshop.com/article/tailors-bunion

Most recent article update: December 22, 2015.
 

Creative Commons License  Tailor's Bunion by Myfootshop.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

The following video shows a tailor's bunionectomy with 5th metatarsal osteotomy.

Internal reference only:   ZoneP6, ZoneD5, ZoneL13