New procedure lengthens toes

By: NewsCenter16 Staff Email
By: NewsCenter16 Staff Email

It is a condition affecting one in every 2,000 people, but few actually know about it.

Brachymetatarsia happens when there is a growth disturbance in a bone in the foot.

The result is a short, sometimes disfigured, toe.

Now, one doctor is solving the problem by lengthening bones.
For most of her life, Jessica Williamson hid her feet from everyone she met.

She says, "I wouldn't go to like, pool parties. I was not going in the water!"

Jessica had brachymetatarsia. Her fourth toe never grew to a normal size. It can cause balance problems, bunions, hammertoes, and lots of insecurities.

"Of course I avoided any sort of shoes that showed my toes whatsoever,” Jessica says.

Shoe inserts were the traditional treatment, but now Doctor Bradley Lamm is offering patients another option.

Dr. Lamm, from the Rubin Institute for Advance Orthopedics at Lifebridge Health, says, "To not only lengthen the bone but to preserve the function is the goal."

He surgically breaks the toe bone. Then, Dr. Lamm 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 explains.

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.

Jessica says, "It really is life-changing for somebody who's lived with this and feels the you know, insecurities."

Today, she can walk better and is not afraid to show off her pedicure!
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.

The results are permanent.

Dr. Lamm is the only surgeon who performs this technique and has treated more than 500 patients so far.


TOPIC: Lengthening Toes
REPORT: #3807

BRACHYMETATARSIA: Brachymetatarsia is a condition that affects the growth of a toe, keeping it shorter than the other four on the foot. Typically, brachymetatarsia affects the fourth toe on both feet. Having a shortened toe can lead to serious problems, including pain in the foot. When walking, weight is distributed evenly from the fifth toe up to the first toe or "big" toe. This works because each toe becomes gradually longer from the fifth to the first, but brachymetatarsia disrupts this even distribution, putting more weight on the surrounding toes and causes pain. (Source:

CAUSES: Brachymetatarsia occurs when one of the metatarsals (usually the fourth) stops growing while the other four toes on the foot continue growing at their normal rate. The disease is found more in females and can often occur in people that suffer from Down syndrome. The most common cause of the disease is hereditary. (Source:
TREATMENTS: The most conservative treatment options for brachymetatarsia include specialized shoes that allow more room for the shortened toe and padding that protects the toe from friction. Some orthotics may also be used to relieve some of the pressure put on other toes to avoid strain. Typical brachymetatarsia surgery involves breaking the toe and grafting a piece of bone between the two ends, thus lengthening the toe. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: A new device can now aid in growing a toe affected by brachymetatarsia to its normal length. The new technique is a more natural method of toe lengthening that is being used by Dr. Bradley Lamm of the Rubin Institute of Advanced Orthopedics at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. The procedure begins with Dr. Lamm breaking the toe bone affected by brachymetatarsia. The device is then placed over the broken toe and must be adjusted every day by the patient for one month. After a few months and the bone is healed, the device is then removed. The biggest positives of this new technology are that it won't leave any screws or plates behind in the foot, and can be worn inside one's shoe. (Source:

Jessica Brunt
Administrative Assistant to Simon Lee, MD
Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University
Phone: (312) 432-2348

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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