Frieberg’s Disease: Know Your Treatment Options

One of the interesting things about being a podiatrist is that the same set of symptoms can potentially indicate a number of different conditions. In order to find the right cause—and therefore the right treatment—you need to do a little detective work. For example, one less-common, although not unheard of, explanation for pain, swelling, and stiffness in your second toe is Frieberg’s disease.

Baby feet

In cases of Frieberg’s disease, bone tissue cells at the head of your second metatarsal—that’s near the base of your second toe—begin to die due to insufficient blood supply, a process called avascular necrosis. It’s most common in active, teenaged girls and young women, especially those who play sports, regularly wear high heels, and/or have recently gone through a growth spurt, as all these things could apply excess pressure on the second metatarsal and cut off its blood supply.

Frieberg’s disease progresses through a number of stages, starting with swelling and pain due to minor joint lesions, but without treatment it eventually can progress to flattening and collapse of bones. That’s why it’s important to seek a diagnosis and treatment as early as you notice symptoms.

Fortunately, most cases do not require surgery. Minor cases may be treated with simple tactics such as rest, shoe modifications, or metatarsal pads, along with NSAIDs or injections to help you manage pain. If underlying causes such as repetitive physical activity or high heel use was the catalyst for the condition, you’ll need to temporarily discontinue these activities as well.

More severe cases may require full immobilization via a walking boot or cast and crutches in order to protect the damaged metatarsal, or surgery if conservative treatments have failed. The precise procedure selected will depend on the severity of your situation, as well as your lifestyle goals.

From common complaints like bunions and heel spurs to more unusual conditions such as Frieberg’s disease, trust Dr. Keith McSpadden to provide the highest quality podiatric care. Call now at 512-593-2949 to schedule an appointment at one of our two Austin-area offices, in Cedar Park and Round Rock, TX.

Posted on July 14, 2015 .