Another top athlete felled in his prime, succumbing to the rigors of professional sports. So goes the more sensational headlines when the news leaked of Rafael Nadal’s condition. Apparently, the best tennis player in the history of the sport, if judged by the number of Grand Slam tennis tournaments won, had suffered a potentially career-ending malady of his left foot. According to Dan Michaels, DPM, "Mueller Weiss syndrome was first described over a century ago. Yet, the specific mechanism remains unknown. Much more common in women than men, it develops generally in middle age, although of course, these are only tendencies. It can cause severe pain but typically does not hurt all the time."
"In Mueller-Weiss, the navicular bone loses its blood supply. When blood flow to the navicular is cut off, it loses its structural integrity and collapses under the compression force exerted by the adjacent bone nearer to the ankle (the talus). The navicular bone flattens or distorts, slowly, over time, altering the articulation between the two bones. This is an important and very functional joint. And these destructive changes generally lead to inflammation and pain over time. Depending on the degree of deformity prior to any modification, the architecture of the foot may be altered. These changes in foot anatomy are always one of succumbing to gravity, a collapsing of the arch. Mueller-Weiss seems to occur more often to a flatter foot type," says Dr. Michaels.