Feet come in all shapes and sizes. While some variations are normal, others indicate a problem that needs to be addressed.
“Foot deformity” is an umbrella term that refers to any condition which alters the shape or structure of the foot into something painful or harmful—typically by misaligning bones and joints. They could be genetically inherited, arise from years of wear and tear, or even be caused by a little bit of both.
Deformities are generally progressive, meaning they won’t get better or go away with time. At Fixing Feet Institute, we provide conservative care options for deformities, as well as surgical reconstruction.
Types of Foot Deformities
Common deformities of the foot that we treat at Fixing Feet Institute include:
- Bunions. A noticeable bump forms at the inside of one or both feet around the joint at the base of the big toe. The toe itself drifts out of position and may even cross over the second digit.
- Hammertoes. Toes contract at the middle joint, causing them to curl downward like a hammer. It starts out relatively flexible, but the joints become more rigid with time. Related conditions include mallet toes (bent at the tip joint) and claw toes (bent at all toe joints).
- Bone spurs. Bony, calcified deposits can form on top of normal bone tissue.
- Flat feet. Some people inherit a naturally flat foot, while others may suffer from arches that slowly collapse over time due to wear and tear.
- High arches. Inherited foot structures as well as neurological disorders can produce arches that are extremely elevated.
- Charcot foot. A very serious condition usually only experienced by diabetes patients with severe nerve damage. Bones in the feet break and disintegrate, and may eventually give the foot a rocker-like appearance.
- Joint dislocations. Sudden impacts or repetitive trauma can push joints out of alignment, which can be very painful (especially when walking).
- Clubfoot. A congenital condition where one or both of baby’s feet are severely twisted. Although a newborn won’t feel any pain from their clubfoot, it’s crucial to get started with treatment right away so that the damage can be reversed before the child begins walking.
Conservative Care Options
As with most foot or ankle conditions, our preference is to manage your deformity with conservative care if possible. Nonsurgical treatments won’t realign the feet or fix a bony formation that already exists. However, if your deformity is still relatively minor, we can often help you keep it from getting worse and avoid the pain and loss of function that accompanies it.
Depending on the type, cause, and severity of your deformity, we may consider options such as:
- Stretching and physical therapy.
- Custom orthotics.
- Changing the shoes you wear.
- Padding, taping, strapping, splinting, toe spacers, or other tools depending on the type of deformity.
- Activity modifications.
Unfortunately, not every deformity can be managed conservatively. If nonsurgical care options don’t provide the necessary pain relief—or your deformity is so severe that they aren’t likely to work at all—we will begin looking at options for surgical reconstruction.
The goal of reconstructive foot surgery is to restore proper alignment to the bones and joints of the foot in order to both relieve pain and achieve the highest level of function possible. Specific procedures may include cutting and realigning bones (osteotomy), repairing or transferring tendons and other soft tissues, reshaping bone ends and joint surfaces, fusing joints (arthrodesis), or other techniques. Physical hardware, such as plates or screws, may be necessary to fix the reconstructed foot in place during the healing process.
Although reconstructive surgeries do usually require a fair amount of recovery and rehabilitation time, you have to weigh that against the alternative: continuing to live with a painful deformity years or even decades. Viewed in that light, the investment is almost always worth it. Nevertheless, our surgical team will go over all your options in detail so you can make a smart, informed decision about your health care needs and goals.
The worst thing you can do for your feet is to ignore the deformity until pain becomes unbearable and your ability to accomplish daily tasks is restricted. The earlier you seek help, the more treatment options we have at our disposal, and the more likely that they will be successful. Please call the Fixing Feet Institute in Surprise, AZ today at (623) 584-5556.