Freiberg’s Disease

Freiberg’s disease affects the second metatarsal head (the bone before the big toe) in which a portion or all of the metatarsal head loses its structural integrity. This can lead to the collapse of the joint and cause pain in the joint. The reason and process of the loss of structural integrity is largely unknown. The most common assumption is that it is due to a vascular problem in the foot. It is thought that the blood supply to part of the bone is cut off. Freiberg’s disease, also called Freiberg’s infraction, is part of a group of disorders called osteochondrosis. Osteochondrosis usually affects children, but Freiberg’s Disease is more common in adult patients.


  • Pain over the affected metatarsal head
  • Sensation that the patient is walking on something hard
  • Stiffness of the foot and joints
  • Pain when bearing weight on the foot
  • Swelling around the affected joint
  • Tenderness in the toes
  • Callus underneath the affected metatarsal head 


Early in the course of the disease, patients can be put into a cast or boot effort to decrease symptoms. Sometimes a podiatrist will recommend that crutches or a wheel chair be used during the process to prevent an individual from bearing weight on the affected foot. A stiff insert, metatarsal pad, and rocker bottom shoe can also be beneficial to a patient. A combination of these inserts can be used for best results. Stretching and over the counter pain medication are also often prescribed by a podiatrist when a patient presents with this disorder.

Surgery may be used to help treat an individual. A podiatrist will try to use other sources of treatment before resorting to surgery. Each individual case is treated carefully. Once all other treatment options are exhausted, or if the disease has progressed enough and is severe, surgery may be preformed to help the foot and the bone.

Freiberg’s disease is an uncommon disorder that can lead to pain and loss of function in the forefoot. It is important for podiatrists to keep this disease in mind when inspecting a foot for forefoot pain. Early treatment can help to alleviate symptoms, while surgical treatment is reserved for those patients whose symptoms continue despite nonoperative treatment. An experienced podiatrist such as Bruce G. Blank, DPM of Achilles Foot and Ankle Surgery, PC located in Martins Ferry, Ohio and St. Clairsville, Ohio, as well as Wheeling West Virginia can examine your foot and help determine whether or not you have Frieberg’s Disease or another disorder. Call 740-633-4188 or make an appointment online today.