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Mitchell Wachtel D.P.M.

Freiberg’s Disease

Treating Freiberg's DiseaseThere are certain conditions out there that are less understood than others. Freiberg’s disease is one such disease. While it’s true that we don’t always know the reason for the development of Freiberg’s disease, we can offer you the help you need to get relief from your pain and back on your feet.

What is Freiberg’s Disease?

Freiberg’s Disease, also known as a Freiberg infraction, is a condition that affects the ball of the foot. One of the metatarsal heads (typically at the base of the second toe, though potentially the third or fourth as well) collapse and become flat.

The most commonly affected demographic is females aged 12-15 years old who are physically active or involved with sports, such as soccer, dancing, and running. However, anyone at any age and any fitness level can develop this problem.

At the beginning of the development of Freiberg’s disease, you may feel a dull ache in the ball of your foot. You might notice that the pain gets worse with activity where the toes are used or curled. It can even be painful to walk or wear shoes because pressure is being put on the metatarsals. It’s possible that this discomfort might even be enough to cause a limp.

Although many different conditions can cause similar symptoms, diagnosing Frieberg’s is fairly simple. A doctor will perform a physical examination, as well as ask you questions about your lifestyle. If necessary, X-rays will be taken to see if it truly is a Freiberg infraction.

Treating This Mysterious Condition

If the diagnosis is indeed Freiberg’s disease, treatment must begin right away. This usually starts with immobilization of the affected foot. It is very important to rest and keep any excess stress off of it until it is completely healed. Your doctor may do this with a cast or crutches.

After the initial healing period, you can go back to putting a little pressure on your feet, but your doctor may recommend special shoes or even the use of custom-made orthotics to make sure everything stays safe and comfortable. It can take some time to recover fully from Freiberg’s disease, so the orthotic is usually prescribed for long-term use.

Sometimes these more conservative methods of treatment are not enough. If your pain won’t go away and you still feel as though you can’t put your full weight on your feet without discomfort, you might need surgery. By removing loose fragments of bone, restructuring the bones, or removing an end of a bone, you are likely to feel more relief. Of course, surgery is a last resort and is only used when absolutely necessary. If you do get an operation you will have to go through an even longer healing period and might even need to undergo physical therapy afterwards to build up the strength in your feet. Only after you are completely healed without any lasting discomfort can you return to physical activity.

Getting Medical Help

If you feel any pain at all in the ball of your foot, get it examined by a doctor. This will decrease any chances of further complications. Call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to make an appointment with us in one of our three Massachusetts locations.