Is Freiberg’s Disease a Problem for Your Child?


Is your child complaining of pain in the forefoot, or perhaps limping? A variety of reasons could be to blame, including Freiberg’s disease. Read on to learn more about what Frieberg’s disease is, what causes it, what the symptoms of this condition look like, and how your podiatrist can help.

In the adolescent body, there are sections in many bones that are known as growth plates. There is a set of growth plates in metatarsals, the long bones that run along the foot and connect with the toes. When a series of microfractures develop in these bones, usually as the result of repetitive stress, Freiberg’s disease develops in the growth plate and the circulation in the bone is negatively affected. A loss of blood flow then occurs and leads to a condition known as avascular necrosis (cellular death) in the head of the bone. 

Podiatrists know that repetitive stress is a factor in the development of Freiberg’s disease, but the actual cause of the condition is still under investigation. Doctors have noted that, in many cases, the second toe is longer than the first, causing it to bear more weight and absorb more shock that it is built to handle. Further, it has been observed that female children are at higher risk than their male counterparts.

The most common symptom of Freiberg’s disease is forefoot pain. Initially, this may respond to at home RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) treatment and over-the-counter medication. Eventually, it will intensify and become more persistent. 

If you suspect that your child may have developed Freiberg’s disease, or if you have any other concerns about the health and wellbeing of your child’s feet, ankles, and lower legs, a visit to the podiatrist is in order. With decades of specialized training and experience, your foot doctor is the best-qualified medical professional to help your family. If, after a careful examination, the doctor confirms your suspicion of Freiberg’s disease, treatment will probably begin by recommending rest and immobilizing the foot with a boot or cast.  Medication for pain and swelling is likely as well. Surgery may be appropriate, but only in severe cases. Toward the end of treatment, your podiatrist may recommend physical therapy and or custom orthotics to provide cushioning and support.

If you or your child need to see a podiatrist to address a problem or for a check-up, click here or call Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. at 410-224-4448 today. Our friendly staff will be happy to help you schedule a convenient appointment with Dr. James M. McKee in our comfortable office in Annapolis, MD.