Morton, Durlacher, and Morton – Podiatrists of Note

I don’t know if you have noticed this but I can get lost in the little bits of information sometimes.
With that thought, I started wondering about the names of conditions.
I am sure this was triggered because I read an article the other day about the proper way to punctuate diseases that were named after the scientists that “found” or described them. It seems that we are not consistent. For example, it is Alzheimer’s disease (named after Alois Alzheimer, a German physician) but it is Down syndrome not Down ’s syndrome (named after John Langdon Down an English doctor)   There seems to be a discussion about making it a possessive when the person who generally discovered the disease or syndrome did not actually have the disease or syndrome. As with many such esoteric discussions, there was not a clear answer.
(And for those of you wondering about my eclectic reading habits, I don’t question what you read…)
This caused me to start thinking about today’s topic, Morton’s neuroma, I wondered about Morton. Also, I thought that Morton’s toe and Morton’s neuroma would be named after the same person.
Morton’s neuroma is named after Thomas C. Morton. But even in the field of podiatry there is some controversy about this naming. It seems that Dr. Thomas C. Morton has gotten credit but that the neuroma was correctly described 30 years previously by Dr. Lewis Durlacher. Now this is interesting because Dr. Durlacher appears to figure much more in the history of podiatry. He was the first who called for more professionalism and ethics in the field of podiatry. His calls went unheeded for a long time but his work and efforts for the profession are recognized. He was the royal surgeon-chiropodist for King William and Queen Victoria and wrote a book on the foot that is still available today. (yes, you can order it from Amazon, really!)
Morton’s toe is named after Dudley J. Morton. I do not know if he had Morton’s toe although in some ways he would have had to have had it.  (Because all his toes would be Morton’s toes)
The Mortons were able to be known in the annals of podiatry because of the naming rights but they don’t seem to be known for much more besides that. Do you think we could start a movement to have it re-named Durlacher’s neuroma? I didn’t think so…
Since I seem to be on the track of information that you were not exactly searching for, I have one other tidbit for you this week. It seems that Abraham Lincoln had lots of foot problems. He had a personal podiatrist who operated on his feet with success.  Dr.Isachar Zacharie was the doctor’s name and he not only operated as a doctor but also was known to pass secrets during the Civil War.  Dr. Zacharie was not exactly successful with his mission nor was he successful in getting paid by the U.S. government for treating Union soldier’s feet. He returned to England after the Civil War.  (Dr. Zacharie became (in)famous in the movie Lincoln that came out a few years ago.  I missed the movie; I must have been too busy reading about punctuation.)
I may have gone a bit far with my history lesson this week. Okay, next week, we will move on to Morton’s neuroma. (Which in my mind I will call Durlacher’s neuroma.)

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