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What's the Difference Between Bunions and Bunionettes?

What's the Difference Between Bunions and Bunionettes?

A bunion is a painful, bony lump at the base of your big toe. Bunions cause symptoms like swelling, redness, and pain — but what if you have a painful lump on the other side of your foot, near your little toe?

It might be a bunionette. Even though the name makes it sound less severe than regular bunions, they're no laughing matter. Both bunions and bunionettes can be a source of chronic pain that limits your mobility, and you don’t have to live with it.

Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists offer care for bunions, bunionettes, and other types of foot pain, and we’re here to help you understand your condition and get the treatment you need.

Bunions vs. bunionettes

Hallux valgus is the medical term for a bunion. It’s a bony bump that grows at the base of your big toe, and it happens when your big toe pushes against the toe next to it. The pressure changes the shape of your big toe joint over time, making it protrude outward.

A bunionette, or Tailor's bunion, is similar — but it grows at the base of your little toe. Just like bunions, bunionettes involve toe joint misalignment that results in a painful bump.

So, the difference between bunions and bunionettes is largely their location. If the bump is on the inner side of your foot near your big toe, it's likely a bunion. If it's on the outer edge of your foot near your little toe, it's probably a bunionette.

The causes behind bunions and bunionettes

Whether you have a bunion or a bunionette, you might be wondering what causes them. The truth is that several factors increase your risk of these painful lumps, including:

Over time, uneven pressure on your foot joints and toes can cause bunions or bunionettes to form. People with narrower feet may be more likely to get bunions, and those with wider feet may be more likely to get bunionettes. However, anyone can develop either — or both — of these painful foot conditions.

Treatment options for bunions and bunionettes

Now, let's talk about treatment options. If you're dealing with a bunion or bunionette, make a podiatrist appointment. Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun believe foot pain shouldn’t get in the way of living your life, and we offer comprehensive bunion care. 

During your appointment, we examine your feet, ask questions about your symptoms, analyze your gait, and review your medical history. If necessary, we order imaging studies to confirm your diagnosis. Then we develop an appropriate treatment plan.

First and foremost, we recommend footwear modifications. Choose shoes with wide toe boxes  with plenty of room for all your toes to move freely. Avoid high heels and narrow shoes that squeeze your toes together.

Over-the-counter inserts or custom orthotics can also help redistribute pressure and support the arch of your foot to reduce bunion symptoms. Padding or splinting your bunion or bunionette can offer pain relief, too, because it cushions the bony protrusion and promotes proper toe alignment. 

Many of our patients find relief from their bunion symptoms with conservative measures. However, if your bunion or bunionette is severe, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery realigns your affected toe joint and removes the bony lump to offer long-lasting relief.

Though bunions and bunionettes may share similarities, their distinct locations require tailored approaches to treatment. Start your journey to a life with less foot pain at The Foot & Ankle Specialists in  Bay City, Caro, and Lapeer, Michigan. Call us or request your first appointment online now.

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