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(404) 806-3731
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2864 Johnson Ferry Rd, Suite 100
Marietta GA 30062

What Is a Short Toe? (Brachymetatarsia)

The short toe (brachymetatarsia or brachymetatarsal) is a condition where there is a growth disturbance to a bone in the foot creating a short toe.  A short fourth toe is most common, though it could affect any toe.  The toe itself is usually normal length, but the bone the toe attaches to in the arch (metatarsal bone) is short.  A short toe can be described as a floating toe.

Symptoms of A Short Toe

A short toe is almost always embarrassing and is commonly associated with pain.  Patients with short toes tend to hide their feet and avoid being barefoot.  Children and young adults are the most physiologically impacted.  Depending on the severity of the short toe, pain could be present.  The often sits higher up on the foot and can get irritated in shoes.  Also, the weight distribution of the ball of the foot is altered with a short toe and can cause pain and pressure calluses.

Causes of Brachymetatarsia

Hereditary is the most common cause, though trauma can play a role. A short toe is a growth disturbance and NOT a birth defect.  It occurs more in women than males.  Brachymetatarsia may occur in people with Psuedophypoparthyroidism or Downs syndrome.

There are five metatarsals in the foot, with the fourth metatarsal most commonly involved.  Some people can have multiple metatarsals that are affected.   It can occur on one foot or both feet.  Some people with brachymetatarsia of the foot may also have the condition in the hand.

Typically, with brachymetatarsia, the metatarsal bone growth is stunted whereas the surrounding bone grows normally.  It’s usually noticed in early childhood during bone development.

When to Seek Short Toe Treatment

Common reasons patients seek treatment for brachymetatarsia are the following:

  • Pain
  • Interference with walking/activities
  • Difficulty fitting shoes
  • Worsening problem
  • Pain at the ball of the foot
  • Unsightly appearance
  • Psychologically embarrassing

Non-operative Treatments for Toe Lengthening

Non-surgical methods for brachymetatarsia are aimed at decreasing symptoms (i.e., pain and/or calluses).

Simple treatments patients can do are:

  • Wear supportive shoes
  • Use an arch support
  • Wear shoes with a wide toe box
  • Modify activities
  • Spot stretch shoes

Non-surgical treatments Dr. Delvadia, DPM may add:

  • Anti-inflammatory Medicines: Prescription strength medicines to decrease pain and inflammation.
  • Custom Foot Orthotics: Dr. Delvadia, DPM creates am orthotic with an exact mold of your foot to better align and support the foot to ease current discomfort.
  • Splints or Pads: Specific pads may prevent pressure and physical irritation in shoes.

Call Our Marietta, Georgia Office Today at 404-806-3731, or Book your appointment online now!