Dealing with a Short Toe (Brachymetatarsia)

Brachymetatarsia (brakie-meta-tar-zia) Say that 10 times fast! 

 Left foot of a young child with concerns of a "short toe." X-rays show us it's not actually the toe that is short but the metatarsal.  Image property of Dr. Tea Nguyen. 

Left foot of a young child with concerns of a "short toe." X-rays show us it's not actually the toe that is short but the metatarsal.

Image property of Dr. Tea Nguyen. 

A picture can explain what this is better my words so here you go, to your right. 

The development of a short toe can be seen at a very young age. The bones continue to grow and reach skeletal maturity around age 13-14 for females and 14-15 for males. Oftentimes parents are concerned about this deformity, which is caused by a disturbance in the growth plates (the growing centers of the bone). 

Should you be concerned? If there is no pain, we continue to monitor the child until they reach skeletal maturity to see where the final position of the toe ends up. 

What if there is pain? If there comes a point where pain is unbearable and all conservative measures have been exhausted (shoe modification), surgery can be performed to elongate the metatarsal. It is best to talk with your podiatric surgeon to discuss options they offer. 

Thanks again for this interesting case! Submit more questions to Dr. Tea here