What Is a Saddle Bone?

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Saddle bone deformity begins with a distinct, often painful bump on the top of the foot. Known scientifically as metatarsal cuneiform exostosis, this disorder refers to an excess buildup of bone on the arch. This part of the foot is known as the metatarsal cuneiform joint. The raised area of bone buildup is sometimes called a "saddle bone."


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Saddle bone deformity is visually distinguished by the raised bump on the arch of the foot. The bone buildup itself is not uncomfortable; however, the complications caused by the disorder are usually painful. Saddle bone sufferers often find that the the first difficult issue is wearing shoes. Open-toed shoes pose no problem, but when the top of the foot rubs against a close-toed shoe, the disorder soon becomes painful. This is because the shoe applies pressure not just to the bump but to the aggravated peroneal nerve below it. When this occurs, an achy pain usually appears in the first and second toes.


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The appearance of a distinct bump on the foot with or without pain usually implies saddle bone deformity. You can also perform a quick, simple test called a Tinel's sign before making an appointment with a doctor. Using your index and middle fingers, lightly tap the bump. If you indeed have the deformity, you will likely feel a tingling sensation around the top of your foot or in your toes. This is caused by the aforementioned pressure on the peroneal nerve. From that point, a few X-rays performed by a doctor will confirm the affliction and determine the need for surgical treatment.


Surgical saddle bone treatment involves removing the excess buildup of bone, or the exostosis. The outpatient procedure can be performed by a podiatrist or general orthopedic surgeon. It only lasts about one hour and patients are allowed to stand on the foot the same day, though it may take a few weeks to resume full use of the foot. Until the surgery, doctors recommend wearing only open-toed shoes to avoid excessive aggravation to the affected area.


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While going barefoot or wearing flip-flops is recommended for those with from saddle bone deformity, casual footwear is not always an option. Luckily, there are products available that help lessen the pain caused by the condition. Foam and felt metatarsal pads, sole supports, compression sleeves and rubber wedges are placed inside the shoe to ease complications from saddle bone deformity and other foot-related ailments. Experiment with different products or ask your doctor to recommend one that is best for you.