There are a variety of common injuries and diseases that we treat often at Shenandoah Podiatry, but sometimes we see cases that are rare. In spite of the unlikelihood of their occurrence, it is important to be aware of them and be able to understand when it is time to seek expert care. One example of an uncommon ailment that we see from time to time is Freiberg’s Disease.
What Is Freiberg’s Disease?
This ailment is noted by pain, stiffness, and a limp due to issues at the metatarsal head of the second toe. The pain is often vague and poorly localized, but occurs in the forefoot. There may be a history of chronic forefoot pain that occasionally flares up due to a specific injury. The actual cause of this condition is unknown, but traumatic injury and growth disturbance, particularly at the end of the bone and in the growth plate, in adolescents are common themes. Additionally, when the second toe is longer than the big toe, it assumes more of the weight and pressure, which creates an issue for the metatarsal joint.
Repetitive stress, particularly for the second toe when it is longer than the big toe, can create a development of microfractures in the growth plate. This affects circulation, the loss of which lead to cellular death (avascular necrosis) in the head of the bone. This may sound especially concerning, but conservative treatments are actually quite successful with this disease.
How is Freiberg’s Disease Treated?
Conservative, nonsurgical methods are utilized as treatment options for the condition, with the goal being to provide rest for the joint. Doing this will allow mechanical irritation and inflammation to subside. We may recommend or prescribe medication to help with the pain and inflammation. When medication is involved, it is important to note that the intent is not to lessen the pain so that you can go back to regular activity. We want the swelling and inflammation to decrease, and being active will not help with that goal.
Going hand-in-hand with rest, you will be required to maintain a restriction on the range of motion for the joint of your second toe. In order to help facilitate that restriction, hard-sole shoes, shoe inserts, and even non-weight-bearing casts may be required to prevent aggravation and keep swelling and pain levels at bay.
Whereas conservative methods prove successful in most cases, severe ones may necessitate in a surgical procedure. When this becomes necessary, bone grafting, simple debridement, arthroplasty (resurface a bone to restore functionality of a joint), and osteotomy (cutting bone to redirect the joint from damaged area) are all potential options.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a vague pain in the front of the foot and are unsure as to what the problem might be, it is possible that Freiberg’s disease is to blame. When this is the case, come in to see the professionals at Shenandoah Podiatry who are prepared to handle whatever condition is ailing you. Call us at (540) 904-1458 for our Roanoke office, or use our online form to schedule an appointment and find the relief you need today.