The symptoms of a bunionette (also known as a “Tailor’s” Bunion) are pain and swelling at the base of your pinky or fifth toe.

A bunionette is an actual enlargement of bone.

What causes bunionettes?

Bunionettes are often caused by a combination of excessive foot movement or long-term use of excessively narrow and rigid footwear.

When the foot overly pronates, excessive torsional forces are created throughout the metatarsal bones. These torsional forces – through the 5th metatarsal – result in an excessive “rubbing” of the lateral edge of the metatarsal head against the shoe that creates intermittent pressures and friction that result in the formation of the bunionette.

The change in the size and shape of bones is accompanied by damaging, soft tissue stress that becomes inflamed and painful.

Bunionettes Illustration

For proper function, our feet require
the Right Stimulus and the Right Movement.

Right Stimulus consists of the subtle varied stimulus that the soles of our feet receive when we walk, especially when we walk barefoot on natural terrain. With each step, there are subtly different sensations. These subtle differences in stimulus keep our brain on high alert so that our body’s protective reflexes function properly with optimal muscle function.

When our brain is uncertain about what will happen, it triggers protective reflex muscle activations that support our arches before our feet contact the ground to ensure that our feet and legs can safely manage the forces generated by the activity intensity of our bodies.

As activity-related stimulus intensifies, a progressively higher arch is created. That’s why, when they are functioning properly, our arches and toes rise and fall dynamically, in response to the varying activity stimulus intensities. This uninhibited dynamic movement is Right Movement. Right Stimulus and Right Movement prevent excessive pronation.

Right Stimulus
Soft Cushy Insole

Conventional footwear impairs optimal foot function in two ways:

First, most conventional footwear dampens Right Stimulus. This is particularly true for shoes or insoles that support or cushion our feet. They spread the forces evenly across the soles of our feet, creating sensory input that’s muted and repetitive, step after step. Within a short period of time, our brain tunes out the stimulus and stops responding to it.

As a result, our brain doesn’t sufficiently activate the muscles that stabilize our arches and properly align our feet, legs, hips, and lower back, before our feet contact the ground. This ‘tuned out’ brain response is natural and happens all the time. For example, the same thing happens when we walk into a room and first smell coffee that we no longer notice after only a few minutes.

Second, most conventional footwear especially footwear that’s tightly laced, has snug toe boxes or stiff midsoles or outsoles – restricts the Right Movement dynamic raising of the arches and toes that is critical in the creation of a strong stable arch system. Wearing footwear that dampens Right Stimulus and impedes Right Movement can create the damaging stresses that cause a bunionette.

Conventional treatment methods for bunionettes include:

  • Taping/stabilizers
  • Supportive products such as orthotics
  • Modified footwear and
  • Surgery
bunionettes grouping

While these methods may temporarily alleviate symptoms, they don’t address the poor neuromuscular function that is the cause of the problem. In fact, the more we artificially support or cushion our feet, the weaker and the more dependent we become on these types of products.

These “old school” support and cushioning treatment methods are not recommended in any other area of musculoskeletal medicine as a viable long-term treatment option. In fact, today’s modern treatment methods for poor neuromuscular function focus on increasing mobility, muscle strength, and proper alignment via Proper Technique exercise, which requires both Right Stimulus and Right Movement. Science has shown that simply challenging the body to “do its job” is the best way to restore and enhance function.

This principle is the foundation for virtually all of today’s sports training/rehabilitation programs.

Recommendations to address the poor neuromuscular function that causes
bunionettes and to prevent them from reoccurring:

  • Walk barefoot on natural terrain as much as possible. This provides the optimal Right Stimulus and allows for the Right Movement required for healthy neuromuscular function.
  • To attain Right Stimulus in your conventional footwear, use BioPods® Stimsoles® in loosely laced, soft, flexible footwear that allows your arches and toes to rise easily for best results.
  • Consult with your healthcare practitioner to ask about employing soft tissue mobilization therapies to address the fibrotic scar tissue that may have formed before using BioPods products.
running girl