It’s a condition that affects up to one in every 2000 people, but few have ever heard of it.
Brachymetatarsia happens when there is a growth disturbance in a bone in the foot. The result is a short, sometimes disfigured, toe and now one doctor says he's solving the problem by lengthening bones.
Today, she’s getting a pedicure, but for most of her life Jessica Williamson hid her feet from everyone she met.
“I wouldn’t go to pool parties. I was not going in the water!” Williamson said.
Williamson had brachymetatarsia. Her fourth toe never grew to a normal size. It can cause balance problems, bunions, hammer toes and lots of insecurities.
“Of course, I avoided any sort of shoes that showed my toes whatsoever.” Williamson said.
Shoe inserts were the traditional treatment but now Dr. Bradley Lamm of the Rubin Institute for Advance Orthopedics at LifeBridge Health is offering patients another option.
Doctor Lamm surgically breaks the toe bone. Then he mounts this fixator device to the top of the foot. Patients can walk with it and they adjust it every day for one month.
“So, they turn one turn in the morning and one turn at night and this gradual turning is growing the bone.” Dr. Lamm explained. “To not only lengthen the bone but preserve function is the goal.”
The device stays on the foot for another two to three months while the bone heals and is then removed. There are no screws or plates left behind.
Today, Williamson can walk better and isn’t afraid to show off her pedicure! “It really is life-changing for somebody who’s lived with this and feels the insecurities.” She said.
Brachymetatarsia can be the result of an injury or a birth defect.
The surgery requires an overnight stay in the hospital but patients are able to walk the next day and the results are permanent. Dr. Lamm says he's the only surgeon who performs this technique and has treated more than 500 patients so far.