Foot and Ankle Deformities
Just like hands and faces, feet come in all shapes and sizes. Big and small, wide and narrow, high and low—your feet are as uniquely yours as any other part of your anatomy.
However, feet also have a very specific job to do, and unfortunately not all of them do it equally well. Whether through genetic inheritance, a traumatic injury, or simply years of wear and tear, the bones, joints, and soft tissues of the feet and ankles can break down, lose stability, and drift out of alignment.
When this happens, a number of problems can arise:
- Foot pain
- Difficulty wearing shoes or walking
- Secondary complications—such as blisters, corns, calluses, or wounds—where the deformities create friction against a shoe or the ground
- Poor posture and alignment throughout the legs, hips, and back
- Embarrassment or lack of self-confidence due to malformed feet
Almost all foot deformities are progressive conditions that slowly get worse over time. Ignoring them will not make the problem go away. Therefore, early treatment is the best plan for preventing serious long-term problems.
Common Foot Deformities
Examples of common foot deformities we see and treat at our Lee’s Summit podiatry office include:
- Bunions. In this condition, two main things happen. One, your biggest toe is gradually pulled out of alignment, with the tip of the toe moving toward the other digits. Two, a prominent, bony bump forms on the side of your foot, at the base of the toe joint. In very serious bunions, the great toe may become very stiff from arthritis, or even cross over the second toe.
- Hammertoes, mallet toes, and claw toes. These related conditions all feature toes that get “stuck” in a bent position at one or more of their joints. At first, you can usually still manipulate the toes with your fingers. In time, however, the digits become much more rigid and painful.
- Flat feet and high arches. Arches are designed to help you cushion the weight of your steps, as well as put a “spring” in your step when you push off. Arches that are too low or high, however, may tire easily and lead to pain when walking or running. Congenital bone defects, neurological disorders, injuries, and wear and tear can all contribute to issues with arch height.
- Charcot foot. If you’ve experienced significant circulation reduction and nerve damage in your feet—often as result of diabetes—your bones and joints may become very weak and brittle, and you may not be able to feel when they’ve broken. Over time, this can lead to severe collapse and deformity in one or both feet.
Managing and Fixing Foot Deformities
Whether a bunion, hammertoe, flat foot, or otherwise, every foot deformity is unique. They come in all shapes, sizes, and stages of severity, and that means there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment approach. We work closely with you to determine which modalities are most appropriate for your situation.
In general, we prefer to manage foot deformities with conservative treatment methods whenever possible. This will not, unfortunately, correct the deformity. However, our main concern is restoring your ability to walk, play, and get through your day without pain or obstruction. If we can do that without surgery, we will. Some of the most common options include prefabricated or custom orthotics, physical therapy, splinting, bracing, padding, and medications.
If conservative treatments can’t provide the relief you require, surgical reconstruction to correct the deformity may be required. Fortunately, Dr. Joel Foster is trained in minimally invasive surgical techniques. These types of procedures require only very small openings, just large enough for the tools to operate, and can usually be closed with a single stitch. This provides a range of benefits over traditional open surgeries, including faster healing, lower risk of complications, less scarring, no requirement for internal fixation hardware, and lower cost (since you never have to walk through a hospital door).
If your foot or toes look misshapen, please make an appointment with Dr. Joel Foster in Lee’s Summit, MO. We are dedicated to listening to your concerns thoroughly, and providing the widest possible range of high quality treatment options to you. Give us a call today at (816) 246-4222, or fill out our online contact form.