Freiberg’s disease, also known as a Freiberg infraction, is a rare disorder that affects the metatarsal bones in the foot, usually the second metatarsal. This condition develops when stress on the foot results in tiny fractures along the metatarsal growth plate. The fractures cut off blood supply to the ends of the bone, causing necrosis (death) of the bone cells receiving insufficient blood flow. Though it is uncommon, Freiberg’s disease is more prevalent among young women, athletes and those with longer-than-normal metatarsal bones.
Treatment is focused on limiting activity, and using crutches or orthotics to relieve stress on the ball of the foot. Joint surgery or replacement may be required in cases of severe bone or joint degradation.