Brachymetatarsia

Brachymetatarsia is characterized as a foot condition where one toe is significantly shorter than the others. Not only are people bothered by the unusual appearance, but it can also cause pain and discomfort. If you think that you have brachymetatarsia, then you should consult a podiatrist. Dr. Anant Joshi at Advanced Foot Care of NJ, LLC is specifically trained to identify and treat complex conditions. 


The Background on Brachymetatarsia


As previously mentioned, brachymetatarsia is a condition that causes one toe on the foot to be much shorter than the other toes. This issue usually occurs to the same toe on both feet. Additionally, while it is possible for shortening to happen to any of the toes, it is most commonly seen on the fourth metatarsal. 


Another related condition is called brachymetapody. This issue results in more than one toe on a foot being considerably shorter than the others. 


The Causes of Brachymetatarsia


Shortened toes result from the growth plate’s failure to close or the metatarsal’s inability to develop. However, the issues with that growth plate or metatarsal do not always affect the growth of the surrounding toes. The other toes can still grow to an average size. However, the underdeveloped toe may cause issues with proper toe alignment. 


Brachymetatarsia can usually be identified at an early age. Because the growth plates or metatarsal has not developed, doctors can recognize an issue during early childhood development checks.


This condition is much more common in women than in men. Studies show that women have a drastically increased risk of developing brachymetatarsia than men with a ratio of 25:1. While this issue is typically developmental, it can also be caused as a result of: 


  • Trauma

  • Infection

  • Radiation

  • Tumor

  • Previous Surgery


Suppose you notice that you or your child may have brachymetatarsia. In that case, you should contact a licensed podiatrist like Dr. Anant Joshi right away to help you correctly diagnose and treat the condition. 


Treatment


While all patients don’t require treatment to correct their brachymetatarsia, many people experience pain and discomfort. Additionally, they cannot wear standard shoes. As children continue to grow, they may also suffer from psychological issues surrounding their feet’ development and appearance. In these cases, podiatrists can offer some surgical solutions. 


Bone Grafting: A bone graft utilizes specially shaped donor bone to fill a gap in the toe. Grafting can effectively extend the length of the toe to give it a normal appearance and function. As the graft heals, it must be held in place with a metal plate and screws. Patients are typically required to be off of their feet for eight weeks to allow proper healing. 


The bone for the bone graft can come from a variety of locations, but podiatrists can typically extract the bone from the patient’s calcaneus. 


External Fixation: This approach is designed to stretch the toe to the appropriate size slowly. For this approach, small incisions are made in the foot, and special pins are attached to the bone. The pins are connected to a device that allows for slow expansion and stretching of the bone. 


The typical expansion rate is 1mm per day and is controlled by a nut on the device. The lengthening typically takes about 4-6 weeks, depending on the person. Once the desired length has been reached, some of the equipment is kept in place to help keep the bone aligned as it regrows. The entire process is completed when x-rays confirm that the new bone has properly grown and can bear weight without the device’s assistance. 


Schedule an Appointment Today


Proper treatment is key if you have brachymetatarsia. Allow Dr. Joshi and our dedicated staff to help you through this process. Contact Advanced Foot Care of NJ, LLC to schedule your appointment.