Brachymetatarsia is a condition in which one of the bones in the front of the foot is significantly shorter than the others. Although it may affect any of the five metatarsals, it most commonly affects the fourth metatarsal. Looking at the foot, it might appear that the fourth toe itself is shorter than the adjacent toes. Sometimes it may even appear as if the fourth toe is raised up, with the third and fifth toes touching each other below it.
The condition occurs when the affected metatarsal bone fails to develop fully or its growth plate closes prematurely. It is easily diagnosed with an x-ray.
Beyond concerns about the toe’s appearance, the shortened metatarsal may not contact the ground properly or carry its share of the person's body weight, resulting in pain and discomfort, and can even result in a painful callus or porokeratosis, which is extra skin growth that hardens and resembles walking on a pebble.
In some cases, brachymetatarsia causes no pain or discomfort and may be treated with careful shoe selection. Sometimes padding or orthotics may be used to provide more support to your foot. In other cases, surgical treatment may be required. The metatarsal bone can be lengthened with an external fixation device or internally with a bone graft.
If you suffer from brachymetatarsia, the doctors at San Diego Podiatry Group can help you find the right treatment option for you based on your unique situation. Contact us today to learn how we can help.