Human feet are impressively complex structures. Of course, they have to be in order to support the entire body and allow movement.
To accomplish these essential tasks, feet are comprised of numerous muscles, bones, and connective tissues. With so many pieces and substructures, it makes sense that every foot is unique, but there are general commonalities everyone expects to see with regard to basic foot structure. Anything outside of these expectations can potentially affect foot health and performance in different ways.
Let’s take a look at some of the foot deformities we treat here at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle
so you can have a better understanding of these conditions.
Types of Foot Deformities
Some foot deformities are seen in younger patients and include:
- Clubfoot – This is actually a range of congenital abnormalities (present at birth) wherein a baby’s foot is twisted into an unusual position. It is caused by shortened tendons, which connect muscles to bone, and is a fairly common condition. Clubfoot is often treated successfully without surgical intervention, but sometimes surgery is needed later.
- Intoeing – There are essentially three different conditions which can cause intoeing in a child – metatarsus adductus (curved foot), tibia torsion (twisted shinbone), and femoral anteversion (twisted thighbone). Intoeing may seem worrisome for new parents, but the conditions do not generally cause pain and normally correct themselves over time.
The arch is an area of the foot wherein the structure is not always what it should be, specifically with:
- Adult-Acquired Flatfoot Deformity – This condition is a progressive flattening of the foot arch. It happens as the posterior tibial tendon begins to weaken and can advance from pain along the tendon to deformity and arthritis in the hindfoot and ankle. Treatment options can vary, but include physical therapy, custom orthotics, and even surgery in some cases.
- Cavus Foot – Whereas flatfoot is a condition of low arches, cavus foot is a matter of high, rigid arches. The condition can cause supination, which means the foot does not rotate as much as it is supposed to during the portion of the step between the heel strike and push from the toes. This leads to excessive forces placed on the outer edge of the foot.
There are also toe deformities that sometimes require treatment, such as:
- Bunions – Bunions are a rather common toe deformity. There is a popular misconception that they are caused by women’s footwear, but the truth is this is often an inherited condition (albeit, one that can become worse on account of tight, high-heeled shoes). The imbalance in the joint at the base of the big toe creates a situation wherein the toe starts to drift inward, which drives the joint further out of position.
- Hammertoe – This, and the related claw and mallet toe conditions, is another deformity caused by imbalance. In these cases, though, the imbalance is between the muscles and tendons on the tops and bottoms of toes. The result of this is curled toes and increased difficulty in wearing normal footwear.
Foot Deformities and Diabetes
Abnormal foot structures can be a source of concern for those who have diabetes in two different regards. First, having an existing deformity (like a hammertoe) can increase the risk of calluses, corns, and other seemingly minor issues that can break down over time and become a dangerous foot ulcer. Second, diabetic neuropathy and impaired circulation combine to create the potential for a deformity known as Charcot foot.
Charcot foot is a severe foot deformity that begins to develop when weakened foot bones (deprived of the essential nutrients to keep them strong by impaired blood circulation) break and crumble from even normal usage. The peripheral nerves damaged due to diabetes are unable to relay the painful sensation that would otherwise indicate the problem. As such, an affected individual is unaware and continues performing normal activities, which leads to additional damage. This cycle can repeat until the deformed foot is quite misshapen.
When your foot has an unusual structure, it may cause difficulty or pain, so come see us here at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle for the treatment you need. We will assess your condition and then create an effective plan to relieve symptoms and improve functionality. Contact our Avon, CO office by calling (970) 949-0500, our Frisco Station office by calling (970) 668-4565, or take advantage of our online form to request an appointment with either location today.