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Short Toe / Toe-Lengthening Surgery

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March 31, 2024

What is a Short Toe?

Another common genetic issue with the foot is a short toe, or Brachymetatarsia. Short toes are genetic and happen when one or more of the metatarsal bone growth in the foot are abnormally short.

Although short toes typically don’t cause as much pain or discomfort as hammertoes or long toes (although your weight distribution could be skewed if your short toe doesn’t reach the ground), they are still an issue most people would like to fix.

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How We Treat a Short-Toe Condition

If you find that your short toe is impacting the weight distribution of your foot, you may be physically impacted by your condition and wish to fix your affected toe surgically or at least alleviate some of the discomfort.

Conservative measures, such as lifestyle and wardrobe changes, can be recommended, as well as surgical methods that lengthen the shortened toe. These measures all depend on the patient’s lifestyle, age, and particular impediment.

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Conservative Short-Toe Treatment Options

The following conservative treatment practices can be adapted to improve Brachymetatarsia:

Wear Different Shoes

Wearing shoes with extra depth and more space in the floating toe box can help give the shortened toe space to move around and assist in weight distribution.

Add Padding

Several over-the-counter pads and wraps are available that can be placed between the toes or behind the painful nail edge to relieve pain caused by a short toe attaches.

Wear Orthotics or Arch Supports

Temporary arch supports or custom molded orthotics can give support and minimize the gripping or clawing effect of short toes from a flattening archway. If a patient doesn’t want to undergo surgery, orthotics and arch support are great treatment solutions.

Surgical Treatment for a Short Toe Condition

Similar to long-toe shortening surgery, the surgical treatment for a short toe takes place in an outpatient center or a clinic where the patient is under sedation and local anesthesia.

This surgery may or may not require an internal pin, the incision is minimal (½ a centimeter to 1.5 centimeters), and each two takes approximately 20 minutes. Occasionally an additional procedure is necessary, such as spur removal.

Sutures are removed after two weeks, and the patient can bear weight in a post-operative shoe or open-toe sandal after 48 to 72 hours of rest and elevation.

With bone graft lengthening surgery, sports, exercise, and wearing different shoes is allowed as soon as three weeks after surgery, depending on swelling and incision sensitivity.

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Insurance Coverage for Short Toe Surgery

Understanding insurance coverage for procedures such as toe lengthening surgery is essential. This surgery, often necessary for treating Brachymetatarsia, may involve advanced techniques like structural bone grafts, sliding bone cut lengthening, or the use of an external fixator.

Coverage varies by policy, with many insurers requiring the procedure to be deemed medically necessary. They may cover the cost of the surgery, which includes the lengthening of the metatarsal bone development or the correction of a fourth toe deformity, as well as the associated bone healing process.

Patients should consult their insurance provider to understand specifics, including coverage for bone plate or brachymetatarsia external fixator lengthening techniques, to ensure they are fully informed of any potential out-of-pocket costs.

Why Choose Us

Our clinic specializes in foot and ankle conditions, offering cutting-edge treatments for short bone and toe lengthening. Here's why we are the preferred choice for patients:

  • Experienced Specialists: Our team is proficient in toe lengthening surgery, with a deep understanding of the metatarsal bone anatomy and the complexities of bone healing.
  • Advanced Treatment Options: We utilize external fixators and bone plates for brachymetatarsia external fixator lengthening, ensuring precise control over the desired length and promoting optimal healing.
  • Individualized Care Plans: Treatment plans may include structural bone grafts or sliding precise bone cut lengthening techniques, tailored to each patient's specific condition and desired length.
  • Modern Facilities: Equipped with the latest technology for heel bone and fourth toe corrections, our clinic is at the forefront of toe lengthening procedures.
  • Patient Education: We emphasize the importance of understanding the toe lengthening process, from the initial metatarsal bone surgery to the final steps of bone healing.
  • Comprehensive Care: Our approach covers all aspects of surgery and recovery, ensuring a smooth process for achieving the desired length and functionality of the toe.
  • Insurance Assistance: We assist with navigating insurance coverage for toe lengthening surgery, including the use of external fixators and bone plates.

In Summary

  1. This article has covered key aspects of toe lengthening surgery for treating short toe, or Brachymetatarsia. We've highlighted conservative treatment options, the surgical process involving structural bone graft, sliding bone cut lengthening, and the use of an external fixator or bone plates to achieve the desired length of the metatarsal bone or correct a fourth toe deformity.
  2. Insurance considerations for covering toe lengthening and brachymetatarsia external fixator lengthening were discussed, emphasizing the need for clarity on what is deemed medically necessary.
  3. Lastly, the advantages of choosing our clinic for toe lengthening surgery were outlined, showcasing our commitment to advanced treatments, personalized care, and comprehensive support throughout the bone healing process.

The information on our website is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. For any health-related concerns, we strongly recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. Please note that any reliance on the information found on our site is solely at your own risk. For more details, please see our Medical Disclaimer.


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What does it mean if you have a short toe?

Having a short toe, also known as Brachymetatarsia, means one or more of the metatarsal bones in the foot are abnormally short. This condition is genetic and can affect the weight distribution on your foot, though it typically causes less discomfort than other toe deformities.

Is Brachymetatarsia a birth defect?

Yes, Brachymetatarsia is considered a birth defect as it is a genetic condition where one or more metatarsal bones in the foot grow abnormally short. This results in a shorter toe, which can impact foot functionality and aesthetics.

Can a short toe be fixed?

A short toe can be addressed through various treatments, including conservative measures like wearing different shoes or adding padding and surgical options that lengthen the shortened toe. The choice of treatment depends on the individual's lifestyle, age, and the extent of discomfort or physical impact.

Is toe lengthening surgery worth it?

Toe lengthening surgery can be worth it if a short toe significantly affects your foot's weight distribution, causes discomfort, or if you are concerned about the appearance of your foot. The surgery involves precise techniques to extend the metatarsal bone, potentially improving both function and aesthetics.

Can you walk after toe shortening surgery?

After toe lengthening surgery, patients are usually able to bear weight in a post-operative shoe or open-toe sandal after 48 to 72 hours of rest and elevation. Complete recovery and the ability to engage in sports or exercise might take up to three weeks, depending on swelling and incision sensitivity.

Is toe lengthening surgery painful?

Like any surgical procedure, toe lengthening surgery involves some degree of discomfort during the recovery phase. However, pain management strategies, including medication and careful post-operative care, can effectively mitigate pain.

How long does it take to recover from toe lengthening surgery?

Recovery from toe lengthening surgery varies, but sutures are typically removed after two weeks, and many patients can start transitioning back to normal activities within three weeks, depending on swelling and sensitivity at the incision site.

Is there a way to lengthen toes?

Yes, toes can be lengthened through surgical procedures that may involve bone grafts, sliding bone cuts, or the use of external fixators. These techniques aim to extend the metatarsal bone, correcting the short toe condition and improving overall foot aesthetics and function.

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Local Podiatrists specializing in Short Toe

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Palm Beach
Portrait of Dr. Adam Siegel, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, specializing in sports medicine and diabetic limb salvage

Dr. Adam Siegel

His advanced training and diverse technology background equip him to provide top-tier care across a broad range of foot and ankle conditions.

Portrait of Dr. Michael Zuri, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, specializing in sports injuries and endoscopic plantar fasciotomies for heel pain

Dr. Michael Zuri

Renowned for treating sports injuries and heel pain, with a focus on diabetic foot care. His patient-centered approach ensures a positive care experience.

Portrait of Dr. Roma Patel, a female Board Certified Podiatrist in Orlando, specializing in sports podiatry and diabetic foot care

Dr. Roma Patel

Her approach is rooted in compassion and personalized attention for each patient, embracing an individualized treatment plan for a broad range of foot and ankle conditions.

Headshot of Dr. Steven Baker, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, known for his expertise in orthotic management and sports injuries of the lower extremity

Dr. Steven Baker

Esteemed podiatrist with decades of experience, transitioning from surgery to non-surgical therapies. Known for his caring and friendly approach.

Close-up image of Dr. Jacob Huffman, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Orlando, known for his expertise in sports medicine and minimally-invasive surgeries

Dr. Jacob Huffman

Expert in sports medicine and minimally-invasive surgeries, with a distinct honor in clinical excellence. His knowledge-driven ideology ensures optimal patient outcomes.

Close-up image of Dr. Kyle Haverstrom, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, renowned for his expertise in minimally invasive procedures and sports medicine

Dr. Kyle Haverstrom

Highly skilled in minimally-invasive procedures, trauma, and sports medicine. Known for his strong surgical skills and talent for diabetic limb salvage.

Close-up image of Dr. Sagar Shah, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, known for his expertise in sports injuries and wound therapy

Dr. Sagar Shah

Expert in sports injuries, pediatric care, and wound therapy. Committed to advancing clinical expertise through understanding patient lifestyles and health.

Close-up image of Dr. Ryan Haaksma, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, recognized for his work in minimally-invasive procedures and diabetic limb salvage

Dr. Ryan Haaksma

Advanced training in minimally-invasive procedures and sports medicine. His dedication ensures new techniques in surgical intervention.

Close-up image of Dr. Tamara Nemeroff, a female Board Certified Podiatrist in Jupiter, recognized for her work in sports medicine and diabetic limb salvage
Palm Beach

Dr. Tamara Nemeroff

Skilled in sports medicine, diabetic limb salvage, and reconstructive surgery. Now accepting Patients at our Jupiter Location.

Headshot of Dr. Patrick Derby, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, specializing in reconstructive surgery and wound care

Dr. Patrick Derby

Skilled in reconstructive surgery and wound care, with a focus on diabetic limb salvage. His principle: making a uniquely positive impact on each patient.

Headshot of Dr. Todd Talbert, a male Board Certified Podiatrist in Orlando, known for his expertise in sports medicine and reconstructive foot and ankle surgery

Dr. Todd Talbert

Specializes in sports medicine, trauma, and reconstructive surgery. Known for compassionate care and training surgical residents in reconstructive surgery.

Portrait of Dr. Dean Sorrento, a male podiatrist in Orlando, recognized for his contributions to sports medicine and diabetic care.

Dr. Dean Sorrento

Excels in advanced nerve decompression and sports medicine. His teaching background enhances patient understanding and care.

Portrait of Dr. Vanisaben Patel, a female podiatrist in Orlando, known for her focus on pediatric podiatry and limb salvage.

Dr. Vanisaben Patel

Expertise in reconstructive surgery, sports medicine, and diabetic wound care. Her patient-centric, collaborative approach ensures optimal outcomes.

Portrait of Dr. Jalpen Patel, a male podiatrist in Orlando, specializing in minimally-invasive procedures and diabetic limb salvage.

Dr. Jalpen Patel

Dr. Patel's specialized training and patient-centered approach uniquely position him to offer exceptional care across a wide spectrum of foot and ankle conditions.

Image of Dr. Trevor Baddaloo, a Orlando, FL-based board-certified Podiatrist, recognized for his personalized care in sports medicine and minimally-invasive surgical techniques.

Dr. Trevor Baddaloo

Dr. Baddaloo is renowned for his holistic and patient-focused care, skilled in sports medicine, podiatric surgery, and ensuring optimal health outcomes.

Portrait of Dr. Donald Adamov, a board-certified Podiatric Surgeon in Spring Hill, celebrated for his innovative approach to minimally-invasive foot surgeries and expertise in diabetic foot care.

Dr. Donald Adamov

Skilled in minimally-invasive bunion correction and advanced wound care, he provides individualized treatment for all conditions to achieve the best outcome.

Portrait of Dr. Melissa Prutch, a female Board Certified Podiatrist in Tampa, specializing in surgery & limb salvage.

Dr. Melissa Prutch

Comprehensive expertise in podiatric surgery and wound care. Dedicated to a patient-first, holistic approach for superior health results.

Dr. Moore, a Spring, Texas-based board-certified Podiatrist, known for comprehensive care in all foot and ankle conditions with a focus on advanced surgical methods.

Dr. Robert J. Moore III

Wide-ranging expertise in foot and ankle care, with a focus on surgery and wound management. Committed to patient-centered, holistic care.

Portrait of Dr. Divyesh Mehta, a male podiatrist in Orlando, Florida, specializing in sports medicine and diabetic reconstruction.

Dr. Divyesh Mehta

Skilled in diabetic foot reconstruction and sports medicine through minimally-invasive procedures. His additional background in nursing provides supreme patient care.

Dr. Ivey, a male Podiatrist in Orlando, Florida, known for surgical expertise in lower extremity pathologies and sport medicine.

Dr. Jacob Ivey

Wide-ranging expertise in foot and ankle care, with a focus on sports medicine and reconstructive surgery. Dedicated to patient-focused care and tailored treatment plans.

Dr. Marquez, a female Orlando, Florida-based Podiatrist, known for reconstructive surgery in lower extremity pathologies and sport medicine.

Dr. Carolina Marquez

Treating a variety of foot and ankle concerns, with a focus on sports medicine and reconstructive surgery. Dedicated to patient-centric care and individualized treatment.

Dr. Huynh, a male Orlando, Texas-based Podiatrist, known for diabetic foot care, bunion procedures, hammertoe correction, and sport medicine.

Dr. Phi Huynh

Treating a variety of foot and ankle concerns, with a focus on diabetic care and cosmetic procedures. Committed to compassionate care and individualized care plans.

We are in-network with all major insurance plans.

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