Plainfield (815) 439-1188 15724 S. Rt 59 Unit 100
Bolingbrook (630) 226-9860 215 Remington Blvd., Suite A2

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Freiberg’s Disease

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Freiberg’s Disease (Also Known as Freiberg’s Infraction)

Freiberg’s disease, which is also sometimes referred to Freiberg’s infraction, is a form of avascular necrosis – the death of bone tissue due to the interruption of blood flow. These blood vessels are responsible for transporting oxygen and nutrients to the bone cells in the foot. When they are damaged, nutrient rich blood cannot reach the metatarsals in the foot, causing bone cell death. This leads to osteonecrosis (bone death), damage to the foot, and the diagnosis of Freiberg’s disease.

Freiberg’s disease is a serious condition that develops in the foot, sometimes following a traumatic injury, but the specific underlying cause is unknown. While the disease affects people of all ages, it is usually diagnosed during adolescence through the second and third decade of life. Eighty percent of cases occur in women.

Signs and Symptoms

As this condition develops, the patient will have problems that impact the metatarsals (usually the second, third, and sometimes fourth) of their feet, causing foot pain. These bones, which play a significant role in support, balance, and mobility, connect the toes to the base of the foot. Common symptoms of this condition are:

  • Pain – This is perhaps the most common symptom, and often leads to a limp. As the cells of the foot are deprived of essential oxygen and nutrients, and they begin to die, this leads to pain.
  • Swelling – Because the body senses that the metatarsals are in distress, swelling will occur in the area as fluid and cells are rushed to the site. This causes a limited range of motion and tenderness of the affected foot.
  • Redness – Because the body is working to heal the damage, inflammation occurs in and around the foot. This will gradually begin to turn the foot red, and the color may progressively change over the course of the disease.

Some people describe the pain like walking on something hard, like a marble or stone, and symptoms are usually triggered by weight-bearing activities (i.e. walking, jogging).

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your foot doctor in Bolingbrook suspects Freiberg’s disease, the next step will be to confirm this diagnosis. This will be done using imaging studies. Often, x-rays are enough to verify your doctor’s suspicions, but an MRI scan may also be ordered to grade the severity of the condition.

Using the imaging studies, your podiatrist in Bolingbrook will check for signs of bone damage in the metatarsals. As the lack of blood supply degrades the bone, the bone density will begin to drop, causing the metatarsal to appear more like a cyst than a bone. Your doctor will also check for enlarged joints and bone fragments.

Treatment will depend on several factors, including the age of the patient, the signs and symptoms, and the severity of the condition. Typically, a conservative approach including certain types of casts, crutches and/or special shoe inserts, along with a modification of activities will be recommended. The primary goal of this therapy is to reduce pain and swelling and rest the joint. Medications including steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) may be recommended as well.

Consult Our Foot Doctor in Joliet or Bolingbrook

If conservative treatment options fail to correct the problem, surgical treatment may be necessary. The best way to avoid surgery is to visit our highly-recommended orthopedic foot and ankle specialists in Bolingbrook or Joliet at the first sign of a problem with your feet. We invite you to give us a call or book an appointment online at Suburban Foot and Ankle, where we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Questions? Contact Us Today

Two Convenient Locations


15724 S. Rt 59 Unit 100

Plainfield, IL 60544

815-439-1188 phone

815-439-2453 fax

Illinois Podiatric Medical Association


215 Remington Blvd., Suite A2

Bolingbrook, IL 60440

630-226-9860 phone

815-439-2453 fax

American Podiatric Medical Association