Müller-Weiss syndrome, the ailment that plagues Nadal

The Balearic tennis player suffers from tarsal scaphoid dysplasia that occurs in childhood and manifests itself in adulthood, a degenerative disease without surgical solution.


The injury that Rafa Nadal suffers and that will prevent him from playing the US Open and competing in the remainder of the season is actually a degenerative disease that has plagued him since he was 18 years old: Müller-Weiss syndrome. It is a dysplasia of the tarsal scaphoid that occurs in childhood and manifests itself in adulthood, being one of the causes of chronic bilateral foot pain. It has no surgical solution. In other words, it cannot be 100% resolved by an operation. It usually manifests itself over 40 years of age, but in the case of elite athletes, such as the Balearic Islands, it can appear earlier due to the strong physical stress to which they are subjected from the beginning of their careers.

The problem is usually the difficulty of its detection and among the possible causes are "the nutritional deficit, the endocrine problems and that there is a significant lateral load when the big toe is shorter", according to Maite García, from the Community College of Podiatrists Valencian.

The navicular tarsal is a bone of the arch of the foot, also called navicular because it is shaped like a boat. On the back side it houses the head of the talus and in front it articulates with the cuneiform bones or wedges, which precede the metatarsals of the first three toes, starting with the fat one. It is a fundamental part of the movement of the foot.

Müller-Weiss syndrome produces "significant and progressive pain accompanied by bone deformity that takes the form of a coma with dorsal or medial protrusion and collapse of the lateral portion," according to Dr. David López Canapé, specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports traumatology, which explains that "in the event that conservative measures do not control pain, there is an intervention that in most cases should fix said joints (arthrodesis of the foot)". Although it is not a definitive cure. At the same time, this disease ends up affecting the knees, as has happened in the case of the winner of 20 Grand Slams

Nadal's magic insoles

Since Nadal's left foot ailment was discovered, the Balearic player used special insoles that diverted the fulcrum and shoes specifically designed for him that allowed him to continue competing. On the other hand, this forced change in the natural biomechanics of his body, punished other parts of Rafa's body, mainly his knees and on some occasions, his ankles.

Photos from as.com
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