What is Brachmetatarsia?

Brachymetatarsia is a congenital condition that affects the bones in the foot, specifically the metatarsal bones. It is characterized by the abnormal shortening of one or more metatarsal bones in the forefoot. Typically, it involves the fourth metatarsal bone, but it can also affect the third or fifth metatarsal.

Causes of Brachymetatarsia: The exact cause of brachymetatarsia is not always clear. It is believed to be a result of a developmental abnormality during fetal development, leading to the improper growth and formation of the affected metatarsal bone. There may also be a genetic component, as it can run in families.

Symptoms of Brachymetatarsia: The main symptom of brachymetatarsia is a noticeably short metatarsal bone, which can cause various issues, including:

  • A shorter toe compared to the adjacent toes, leading to a visible size discrepancy.
  • Difficulty wearing certain types of shoes, as they may not fit properly or cause discomfort and pressure on the affected toe.
  • Abnormal weight distribution on the foot, which may result in pain and an altered gait (walking pattern).

Treatment of Brachymetatarsia: Treatment for brachymetatarsia is typically recommended when it causes significant functional or cosmetic concerns. The most common treatment option is surgical correction, which involves lengthening the affected metatarsal bone. The surgical procedure is known as a metatarsal lengthening or metatarsal distraction osteogenesis.

During the surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision near the shortened metatarsal bone and inserts an external or internal device to gradually lengthen the bone over time. The device, such as an external fixator or internal plate, applies controlled tension on the bone to stimulate new bone growth. This process can take several weeks or months.

In some cases, bone grafts may be used to provide additional support and promote bone healing. The surgical procedure is usually followed by a period of immobilization and rehabilitation to allow for proper bone healing and functional recovery.

It is essential to consult with a foot and ankle specialist or orthopedic surgeon for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan based on the severity of brachymetatarsia and its impact on the individual’s foot function and overall well-being. Early intervention and appropriate management can help improve foot function and alleviate any associated pain or discomfort.