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Rady Children's Specialists

Iselin’s Syndrome

Iselin disease is painful inflammation of the apophysis (growth plate) at the base of the 5th metatarsal (foot bone). The growth plate is made up of cartilage, which is softer and more vulnerable to injury than mature bone.

Iselin’s disease is most often seen in physically active boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 13. It is an overuse injury caused by repetitive tension on the growth center at the base of the fifth metatarsal. Running and jumping generate a large amount of pressure on the forefoot.


Symptoms of Iselin’s syndrome include:

  • Pain along the outer edge of the foot.
  • Limping.
  • Swelling on the lateral (outer) bump of the foot.


Diagnosis is based on physical examination. X-rays are required to look for fractures, but this disease can rarely be seen on these films.


Treatment is a period of rest from painful activities in order to take pressure off the growth center and allow the inflammation to resolve. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications can be helpful to reduce pain and inflammation. It will be important to stretch tight calf muscles in order to help prevent recurrence. In severe cases, two to four weeks of immobilization in a walking boot or cast may be necessary. Return to sports can be done when pain is gone and there is no limping. The period for this can vary, but four to six weeks is a reasonable estimation.