Most of us want to see clear black and white, one cause and one effect. The truth, however, is rarely that simple. That’s certainly the case with bunionettes—those bony bumps at the base of pinky toes—which may have a combination of complex causes.
Historically speaking, these deformities were common among tailors—that’s why, to this day, they’re also known as tailor’s bunions. Tailors in those days spent long days cross-legged with the outside of their feet rubbing against the ground. That rubbing pushed the toe out of alignment and helped create the trademark bony protrusion.
Today, the most common explanation tends to involve a combination of genetics and environmental factors. There’s some disagreement over whether bad shoes can cause the problem on their own or whether they also require an underlying structural defect in your foot itself. In practice both conditions are usually present.
Genetically inherited mechanical problems can lead to feet that do not distribute forces properly across your foot, pressuring some spots harder than others. This kind of imbalance can throw off your gait, and slowly cause your bones to move out of alignment, including the joint at the base of your pinky toe.
The situation is exacerbated by footwear that doesn’t adequately support the work your feet are doing, making the existing problem worse. Shoes that are too narrow in the toe box can push your toes inward; wear this sort of shoe too often and the joint can slowly move out of place. High heeled shoes (especially those exceeding 2”) worsen the problem, because they focus all your body weight on a very small segment of your forefoot, magnifying the pressure felt in this area per step many times over.
It’s no wonder, then, that about 9 out of 10 bunionettes are found on the feet of women. Women’s fashion trends can be notoriously brutal on feet. While occasionally wearing the latest fashions is probably okay for special occasions, we want you in comfy, supportive shoes most of the time to avoid this deformity and other complications.
If a painful bony bump on your foot is preventing you from enjoying treasured activities and making it difficult to simply put on a pair of shoes, call Richardson Podiatry for an appointment. The earlier you see Dr. Gene Reister, the more likely non-surgical methods will bring effective pain relief. You can schedule an appointment online, or dial (972) 690-5374.