Foot and leg deformities can be present at birth or develop as you age. Often, these deformities are treated at birth or in their early stages, and functionality of your foot or leg can be restored, allowing you to use your feet and legs with little pain or difficulty. However, if these deformities are not corrected properly, you or your child may have difficulty walking or may experience pain with every step. The following are deformities that affect your legs or feet:
If you notice symptoms of any of these deformities in yourself or if your child has been born with (or seems to be developing) foot or leg deformities, you should visit your doctor for an examination and treatment.
Amniotic band syndrome (ABS), a birth defect, can cause a range of deformities, including malformations of the arms, legs, hands, and digits. Symptoms are typically minor; however, there are cases of symptoms becoming more severe. With proper treatment by a skilled doctor, those with ABS can enjoy improved functioning of the affected body parts.
Amniotic band syndrome is caused by damage to a part of the placenta called the amnion. When damaged, the amnion may produce fibrous bands. If the amniotic bands wrap around and constrict parts of the developing fetus, this can prevent blood flow to those parts, causing them to develop abnormally. The syndrome usually affects the arms, legs, hands, fingers, and toes, although it can also cause deformities of the face, chest, and abdomen.
Symptoms of ABS are often relatively minor and may not require treatment, allowing sufferers to function normally. For those with severe symptoms, treatment is available.
Symptoms of amniotic band syndrome vary in severity and can include:
Bands or indentations around arms, legs, hands, fingers, or toes.
All or part of an arm, leg, finger, or toe missing.
Defect of the abdomen or chest wall.
Cleft palate and other abnormal facial gaps.
Treatment for ABS depends on the severity of the symptoms. Most cases are relatively mild, have an excellent prognosis, and do not require treatment. In cases of severe deformity, surgical treatment may be necessary to reconstruct the damaged body part.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with amniotic band syndrome, contact your doctor for more information about treatment options. With proper medical attention by an experienced doctor, most sufferers can enjoy normal body functioning.
Bone spurs may develop on the heel, toe, or arch of the foot and typically form as a reaction to pressure or arthritis. Bone spurs may form on one or both feet and commonly affect middle-aged adults. Those who have suffered from plantar fasciitis for several years, individuals with flat feet or high arches, and those who wear high heels are at the greatest risk of developing bone spurs.
The causes of bone spurs vary based on the location of the spur.
Arch Spur - Bone spurs that form over the arch of the foot are often caused by trauma such as a fracture. However, they may also occur naturally over time as a result of daily wear and tear. In some cases, spurs on the arch of the foot may be caused by arthritis.
Heel Spur - Bone spurs on the heel are often associated with plantar fasciitis, a condition in which the tissue that supports the arch separates from the heel bone and causes pain and inflammation. As the affected area becomes inflamed, calcium deposits form and gradually create bone spurs.
Toe Spur - Bone spurs on the toes often develop near a bunion and may be caused by abnormal motion near the joint.
Many individuals who have bone spurs never experience adverse symptoms. However, those who do have symptoms usually experience pain, redness, and inflammation in the affected area. A hard bump may also be felt under the skin where the spur is located. In some cases, corns and calluses form over the spur causing further irritation.
The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and other symptoms. Basic non-surgical treatments are usually successful in treating bone spurs; however, in some cases more aggressive methods may be needed.
Some non-surgical methods of relieving the pain and symptoms of bone spurs include:
Getting cortisone injections.
Performing stretching exercises (typically used for heel spurs to relieve tension).
Resting and icing the affected area.
Supporting heel with shoe inserts and night splints.
Taking over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medication.
Trimming corns and calluses to relieve pain (although they are likely to return if spur is not removed).
Undergoing energy extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT), which uses energy pulses to promote healing (usually used after other non-surgical treatments are tried).
If you've pursued all non-surgical treatment options for over a year without success, surgery to smooth the spur may be considered. Consult your doctor to learn about the various non-surgical and surgical treatments available.
A bunion, which is an abnormal bump on the big toe joint caused by enlargement of the joint, may cause significant pain, disfigurement, and deformity. When the joint swells, it can place pressure on the other toes, causing them to crowd together and extend outside the normal foot profile. Although bunions are a relatively minor foot ailment, it is important to obtain treatment while in the earlier stages. With prompt treatment by a skilled doctor, most patients can enjoy improved foot comfort.
Bunions are caused by ongoing pressure on the feet, particularly on the big toe. Some common sources of such pressure include:
Certain medical conditions, including arthritis.
Inherited structural defects of the foot.
Shoe fit – stress points from high-heeled shoes or shoes that fit too tightly.
Symptoms of bunions include:
"Hammertoes" (bent or claw-like toes).
Corns and calluses between the toes.
Misshaped joint area of big toe.
Pain, redness, and/or swelling of the big toe’s joint.
Restricted movement of the big toe.
Thickening of the skin around the toes.
Treatment for bunions depends on the severity of your symptoms and is not always necessary. For relatively minor bunions, lifestyle adjustments (i.e. wearing well-fitting shoes and/or shoe inserts and other supports) may be all that is necessary to heal the bunions. For more severe bunions, medications, including anti-inflammatory and pain control medications, may be required. In severe cases, including those in which a sac of fluid surrounding the joint becomes inflamed, surgery may be required.
With the help of an experienced doctor, bunions are treatable. If you are experiencing the symptoms of bunions, contact your doctor today to learn more about treatment options.
Claw toe is a deformity of the toes that can interfere with the function of the foot. A "claw" toe is a toe that is contracted at the middle and end joints. Tight ligaments and tendons cause the tow to curl downward, putting pressure against the sole of the shoe.
Without treatment, they will become worse over time. Claw toes can become rigid and permanently deformed, making foot movement extremely painful.
Claw toes result from a muscle imbalance in the foot. When the deeper toe muscles are weaker than the surface toe muscles, the ligaments and tendons in the toes become extremely tight, forcing the toes to curl down toward the sole of the foot.
There are several different medical conditions that can cause nerve damage and weaken the muscles in the foot:
Spinal cord tumors.
All of these conditions can lead to different foot deformities, including claw toe.
Claw toe causes the toes to dig down into the soles of the shoes. Eventually, the toes become fixed in that position, resulting in pain and pressure along the joints of the toes.
Symptoms of claw toe include:
Corns and calluses on the top of toe or the ball of the foot.
Painful calluses on the top or bottom of the toes caused by pressure from shoes.
Toes bent down at the middle joint of the toe.
Toes bent upward from the joint at the base of the toes.
One of the main symptoms of claw toe is pain - pain from the toes rubbing against the top and bottom of the shoe, as well as pain in the ball of the foot.
Claw toe can be treated when caught early (the toe must still be flexible). To treat early stage claw toe, most doctors will recommend wearing a toe splint or taping the toes to hold them in the correct position. You can also exercise and stretch the toe to increase flexibility. It is best to avoid wearing tight shoes with a narrow toe box.
When claw toes become rigid and fixed, the goal of treatment is to relieve some of the pressure on the toes to reduce pain and discomfort. Foot pads can help redistribute weight in the foot and relieve the pressure. Special shoes are also available with an extra wide and deep toe box to accommodate the toe deformity. If conservative treatments are not helping to reduce pain, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
Clubfoot is a type of birth defect that affects one in every 1,000 newborn babies. The term "clubfoot" refers to the position of one or both feet relative to the ankle; the foot is twisted out of position at a sharp angle in relation to the ankle, similar to the head of a golf club.
Clubfoot is not painful, but it is important to bring your child to see a physician for treatment. The deformity will not correct on its own.
The exact cause of clubfoot remains unknown.
The visible symptoms of clubfoot can be recognized almost immediately after birth; the foot is twisted downward and inward.
The clubfoot may be slightly smaller than the opposing foot and the calf muscles in the affected leg(s) are usually underdeveloped.
Clubfoot needs to be treated in order to prevent disability and difficulty walking in the future. The goal of clubfoot treatment is to move the foot into proper alignment.
Nonsurgical treatment of clubfoot can begin almost immediately after birth. Doctors begin by gently stretching the clubfoot and using a cast to hold it in the proper position. Every few weeks the cast is removed and the foot is stretched and recast. Once the foot reaches the proper position, special shoes or braces are used to keep the muscles in place.
Severe cases of clubfoot require surgical intervention. An orthopedic surgeon can adjust the tendons, ligaments, and joints in the foot and ankle to help move the foot into proper position. Following surgery, the child will need to wear a brace for about a year to prevent recurrence of the deformity.
Dysplasia, or epiphysealis hemimelica, is a developmental disorder that affects the joints in the hands and feet. The term dysplasia literally translates to "bad formation". In the hands and feet, dysplasia is characterized by expanded growth of cartilage on the end of the long bones. The disorder is extremely rare, affecting just one in every million people.
Dysplasia is a benign disorder with no cure. Symptoms of dysplasia, including bone fractures and deformities, can be treated when necessary.
The exact cause of dysplasia is unknown, although the disorder does not seem to be genetic. Dysplasia tends to occur in childhood, affecting children between the ages of 3 and 15.
Dysplasia may be asymptomatic or it can produce the following symptoms:
Difficulty walking and running.
Growth of a mass on the joint.
Limited motion of the joint.
Some symptoms will cease once the bones in the hands and feet stop growing.
Dysplasia is diagnosed with a physical examination or X-ray. Most cases of dysplasia are diagnosed within the first few decades of life, typically in childhood or during adolescence.
The outlook for people with dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition and the rate of progression. There is no cure for dysplasia, but treatment is available to prevent complications and deal with side effects like bone fractures.
Dysplasia does not necessarily cause any pain; the disorder can be asymptomatic for years. This can make it difficult to diagnose and treat.
If you or a family member is experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as swelling near a bone joint in the foot, consult a physician as soon as possible. A simple X-ray can go a long way toward recognizing foot abnormalities and disorders like dysplasia.
Enchondroma is a type of small, benign tumor that grows in the bones of the feet and hands. These tumors usually develop during childhood; they are most often diagnosed in patients between the ages of 10 and 20.
Enchondromas can form on the bone beneath the toenails, causing pain and discomfort when walking. Removal of enchondromas may be necessary if the tumor begins to weaken the bone.
The exact cause of enchondromas is unknown, and there is no evidence that any kind of trauma, disease, or exposure to chemicals contribute to the development of these tumors. Some doctors theorize that enchondromas develop because of overgrowth of cartilage on the growth plate at the end of the bones, or from overgrowth of embryonic cartilage.
Enchondromas are usually not painful. They are typically diagnosed following an X-ray of a surrounding area.
As enchondromas continue to grow, they can cause weakness in the affected bone, which can then lead to fracture. Large enchondromas can cause foot or hand pain and enlargement of the affected area. Enchondromas may also appear as multiple tumors. When multiple growths are present, that may be indicative of the following conditions: Ollier's disease or Maffuci's syndrome.
The symptoms of enchondromas are similar to the symptoms found with countless other foot injuries and deformities. Make sure to consult your physician for a proper diagnosis.
Following diagnosis, treatment will depend on the following:
Age and health of the patient.
Progression of the disease.
Size and location of the tumor.
If the tumor has stopped growing and is not causing any bone weakness or deterioration, treatment may not be necessary. In that case, your physician would continue to conduct periodic physical examinations and observe the affected area.
When enchondromas are causing pain, growing abnormally, or contributing to bone weakness, your doctor will most likely recommend surgical treatment. Surgery would involve removal of the enchondroma and possibly a bone graft to ensure proper healing.
Flat feet, or pes planus, is a common type of foot deformity. The arch in the foot simply never develops or it collapses over time. For people with flat feet, the entire sole of the foot lies flat on the ground when standing or walking.
Aside from arch supports, no treatment is usually necessary to address flat feet. There are always exceptions, so make sure to consult a physician if you are experiencing any pain.
The arches in feet develop during childhood, so flat feet are normal in small children and toddlers. Some people simply never develop arches. Odds are that if one or both parents have flat feet, their children will have flat feet as well.
Arches can also fall naturally over time or collapse due to injury or trauma. The following factors can contribute to fallen arches:
Injury to the foot and/or ankle.
Normal wear and tear.
Flat feet are characterized by the absence of arches. The soles of the feet lie flat against the ground with no space beneath the mid foot area. Many people go through life with flat feet and experience no pain or discomfort; however, flat feet can sometimes contribute to ankle and knee pain. This is because flat feet can throw off the alignment of the legs.
Other symptoms of flat feet include:
Foot pain, particularly in the mid foot.
Inflexibility of the foot.
Swelling near the ankle.
There is no need to seek treatment for flat feet unless you are experiencing pain. Stiff and painful flat feet should be examined by a doctor. Treatment options can include rest, anti-inflammatory medication, stretching, arch supports, and foot or ankle braces.
These treatments do not offer a "cure" for flat feet, but they can help reduce some of the painful symptoms associated with this foot deformity.
Gordon Syndrome is a genetic disorder in which the joints become fixed in a flexed position. Club foot is also commonly associated with Gordon Syndrome and occurs when tendons of the foot are too short, causing the foot to bend downward and inward. While Gordon's Syndrome may be associated with another disease, it can also occur by itself. Gordon's Syndrome is very rare, only occurring once in every 3,000 births. The disorder affects both sides of the body and can be disabling without proper treatment.
The cause of Gordon Syndrome is unknown; however, genetic factors and drugs may play a role. Lack of movement in the womb is thought to be the cause of fixed joints. There are several known causes for limited joint movement before birth including:
Abnormal development of the tendons, bones, or joints.
Improper muscle development.
Insufficient space for the fetus to develop in the uterus.
Malformation of the central nervous system and spinal cord.
Symptoms of Gordon Syndrome that affect the feet may include:
Impaired mobility of the ankles.
Rigid or permanently fixed joints.
Treatment for club foot and impaired joints, which are commonly associated with Gordon Syndrome, should begin immediately after birth for the best possible outcome. The goal of treatment is to loosen the soft tissues and align the bones into a normal position. Treatment may include physical therapy, splinting, bracing, continuous casting, or surgery.
Physical therapy is most effective when performed early on. Stretching the muscles and manipulating the joints through physical therapy can improve range of motion and prevent joint stiffness and muscle atrophy. Physical therapy may also be combined with splinting which can be beneficial in moving the feet into the normal position while increasing range of motion.
Casting of feet
Another treatment, known as the Ponsetti method, involves weekly casting of the feet, moving them slightly with each cast in order to gradually stretch the skin and rotate the feet into the proper position. Once the casts are removed, braces may need to be worn for several months to maintain the position.
If other treatments are not effective, surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity. During surgery, the tendons are loosened to release tension so that the feet can move into the normal position. Following surgery, a splint is usually worn at night for several months. In some cases, it may be clear during infancy that surgery will be the best treatment option.
In these cases, surgery should be performed within the first year. However, the condition can recur over time and additional surgeries might be necessary as the child grows.
Haglund's deformity refers to a bony protrusion on the back of the heel. When pressure is placed on this enlarged bone, the fluid-filled sac between the bone and Achilles tendon may become inflamed. The soft tissue around the Achilles tendon may also become red and irritated. This condition is often seen in young women who wear high-heeled shoes and, for this reason, it is often referred to as the "pump bump".
While Haglund's deformity is caused by an enlarged bone on the heel, the pain and inflammation associated with the condition occurs as a result of pressure that pushes the bone against the Achilles tendon. Some individuals have a foot structure that makes them more susceptible to Haglund's deformity. However, the condition is common among those who wear shoes with rigid backs that rub against the heel or high-arches that tilt the heel backward toward the tendon.
Haglund's deformity is characterized by a large, bony protrusion on the back of the heel. When pressure is placed on the heel, the surrounding tissue becomes red and inflamed. Pain may also be felt in the area where the bone connects to the Achilles tendon. These symptoms are often noticed after walking in uncomfortable shoes that rub against or put pressure on the heel.
Non-surgical options are successful in treating symptoms of Haglund's deformity. However, surgical alternatives are available to correct the deformity when symptoms are too severe.
The swelling associated with Haglund's deformity can typically be addressed with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and cold compresses, while pain can usually be treated with topical pain medications. Further irritation to the surrounding tissue can be prevented by wearing backless shoes or using heel pads. Arch supports may also be beneficial. And, in some cases, exercises that stretch the Achilles tendon can help alleviate some of the pressure. If the condition becomes more severe, a cast or boot can help immobilize the foot and allow surrounding tissues to heal.
While non-surgical methods can help alleviate pain and inflammation, they will not reduce the bony protrusion that is the source of the problem. This can only be done through surgery. If non-surgical treatments are not providing sufficient relief of your symptoms, contact your doctor to learn more about your surgical options.
Hallux limitus is a term that describes early-stage stiffness and loss of motion in the joint at the base of the big toe. In hallux limitus patients, the toe cannot bend upward. Eventually this limited movement causes jamming of the toe joint. Repetitive jamming can lead to arthritis and extra bone growth over the top of the joint (this is known as a dorsal bunion).
Hallux limitus is a progressive condition; eventually the toe joint can become rigid or frozen. This later stage is referred to as hallux rigidus.
Some people are genetically predisposed to develop hallux limitus; others develop the condition from trauma or overuse.
The following factors can lead to hallux limitus:
Excessive pronation (inward roll of the foot).
Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease).
Overly long metatarsal bone.
Overly short metatarsal bone.
Repetitive injuries (particularly jamming the toe).
All of these factors contribute to excessive wear of the toe joint cartilage, causing limited mobility and deterioration of the joint.
Hallux limitus is the first stage of a progressive condition. Initially, patients will experience a deep ache when they try to flex their toe joint upward. Pain and stiffness at the base of the toe will occur when walking. Usually the pain disappears when the joint is at rest.
There may also be swelling and inflammation at the base of the big toe, especially on top of the joint. Eventually damage to the cartilage in the joint will cause an overgrowth of bone. These bone spurs might not be painful, but they can lead to calluses caused by friction between the skin and the shoe.
Early treatment of hallux limitus is essential to halt the progression of the condition.
Conservative treatment options include:
Change in shoe wear (wider shoes take pressure off the toe joint).
When conservative treatment fails, surgical intervention might be necessary. Every case of hallux limitus is unique; surgical treatment will depend on the cause of the condition, the quantity of bony overgrowth, the amount of joint deterioration, and the amount of pain.
Surgical options include:
Fusing of the joint.
Realignment of the bone.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, visit your doctor for an examination. Early treatment for this condition is important to halt its degenerative process.
Hallux varus is a type of foot deformity that causes the tip of the big toe to point inward, away from the other toes on the feet.
People with hallux varus may have difficulty walking and wearing shoes. When the condition is mild it can be treated with stretching or splints, but if the condition progresses and causes serious pain, surgical intervention is often necessary.
Hallux varus is caused by trauma or congenital factors. Some people are born with a foot structure that predisposes them to a hallux varus foot deformity. Loss of the sesamoid bone can also cause a muscular imbalance in the foot that leads to drifting of the toe.
One of the primary causes of hallux varus is rupture of the ligament at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP or toe) joint. The condition often occurs as a complication from bunion surgery or occurs from trauma.
The drifting of the big toe is the most obvious sign of hallux varus deformity. Other symptoms of hallux varus can include:
Difficulty walking or standing.
Difficulty wearing close-toed shoes.
Limited range of motion.
Swelling and pain in the foot and ankle (caused by pressure on the toe).
Symptoms of hallux varus are aggravated when you wear shoes that crowd the toes. The condition does not cause joint pain. In fact, most of the discomfort associated with hallux varus is caused by friction between the toe and poorly fitting shoes.
Mild hallux varus deformities can be treated with non-surgical methods. The goal of treatment is to reduce discomfort and symptoms associated with the deformity.
Non-surgical hallux varus treatment options include:
Physical therapy (stretching the tendons in the toe).
When a hallux varus deformity progresses, your physician may recommend surgery to correct the structural problem in your foot. Surgical treatments of hallux varus include:
Talk to your physician to learn more about the surgical treatment of hallux varus.
Hammertoes are a deformity that causes contracture (bending) of the joints in the second, third, fourth, or fifth toe. Tightened ligaments and tendons cause the toes to curl downward, resembling a hammer or a claw.
Hammertoes can cause significant discomfort. In the early stages of the deformity, the joints in the toes are still flexible. If left untreated, hammertoes can become rigid, making any type of movement painful.
Hammertoes are caused by a muscle imbalance in the foot. This type of structural imbalance causes the ligaments and tendons in the foot to become too tight, forcing the toes to curl downward.
Any of the following factors can contribute to a muscle imbalance in the foot, leading to hammertoe deformities:
Injury (breaking the toe or stubbing the toe).
Pressure from a bunion.
Wearing improper footwear (particularly high-heeled shoes and shoes with a narrow toe box).
Hammertoe deformities cause the middle joints of the toe to push upward while the tip of the toe curls downward. This "hammer-like" appearance is the obvious symptom of hammertoe.
Other common symptoms of hammertoe include:
Corns and calluses on or in between the toes.
Limited movement of the toes.
Pain near the toe joint (usually from pressure while wearing shoes).
As hammertoe progresses, the affected toes may rise and begin to overlap other toes. At this point, it is important to seek treatment.
Initial treatment of the hammertoe deformity is designed to reduce symptoms and make movement easier. Patients are advised to wear comfortable shoes with wide toe boxes. Your physician can provide custom orthotics, corn pads, or splint the toe to keep it straight.
Surgery may be required if hammertoes become rigid and painful. A surgeon can lengthen the tendons to allow the toe to uncurl, or can remove a small wedge of bone from the toe to reduce the angle of contracture.
Jackson-Weiss syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by foot and skull abnormalities, including misshapenness of the head and face. The syndrome can cause a number of additional symptoms ranging in severity from developmental delays to seizures. However, with the help of a skilled doctor, the symptoms are often manageable. Many patients are able to live relatively healthy, normal lives.
Jackson-Weiss syndrome is caused by a gene responsible for fetal bone tissue development. A mutation in the gene causes it to over-stimulate bone cell growth, which causes the bones to develop and grow abnormally. The syndrome is therefore hereditary in nature, although it does not necessarily appear in every generation.
Symptoms of Jackson-Weiss syndrome include foot abnormalities, craniosynostosis, and other congenital defects (defects present at birth), including those that cause blindness, seizures, and decreased intellectual capacity.
Foot Abnormalities - Foot abnormalities appear to be the most consistent symptom of Jackson-Weiss syndrome. Common foot abnormalities associated with the syndrome include:
Abnormally shaped toes.
Short, wide big toes that bend away from the other toes.
Toes with fused bones.
Craniosynostosis - A congenital defect, craniosynostosis is characterized by abnormal head shape. The defect causes the tissue between a fetus's skull bone to close earlier than normal, thereby causing the skull to become misshaped. Symptoms of craniosynostosis include:
Absence, or early disappearance, of the "soft spot" (fontanelle) on a newborn's skull.
Head and face abnormalities (i.e. unusual head shape, misshapen skull, bulging forehead, and widely spaced eyes).
Increased intracranial pressure.
Slow (or nonexistent) head-size increase (over time).
Typically, the symptoms of Jackson-Weiss syndrome are treated with surgery during the patient's infancy. The surgery is performed in order to: treat the feet or relieve pressure on the brain, provide room in the skull for the brain to grow, and improve the appearance of the head.
If your child is showing symptoms of Jackson-Weiss syndrome, contact your doctor to obtain the help you need. With treatment from an experienced doctor, many patients with the syndrome are able to lead healthy, happy lives.
A mallet toe is a toe with a curled upper joint, which gives the toe a claw-like appearance. If the bottom of the toe is pressed down over time, this can create a "mallet-like" appearance, hence the name of the deformity. Although the toe may be flexible and flat-lying at first, without treatment it is likely to tighten, potentially causing permanent stiffness. However, with proper medical attention by a skilled healthcare professional, many individuals with mallet toes can enjoy improved foot and toe functioning.
There are a number of potential causes of mallet toe, including:
Injury to the toe (i.e. jams, sprains, and breaks).
Other diseases that affect the muscles and nerves (i.e. arthritis and stroke).
Wearing high heels and poorly-fitting footwear.
The symptoms of mallet toe include:
Corns and calluses on or between the toes.
Misshaped toes (claw-like/hammer-like appearance).
Pain and difficulty moving the toe.
Pressure in the toe joints.
When a mallet toe causes persistent pain, interferes with your daily life, and/or causes your toe to have a clenched appearance, it is time to seek medical attention. Treatment for mallet toe depends on the severity of the symptoms.
If the toe is still flexible, wearing roomier footwear and toe inserts (pads) may be all that is necessary to reposition the toe, thereby relieving pain and pressure.
If the toe is tight and inflexible, surgery may be necessary. Your doctor will make an incision in your toe and treat the tendon causing the toe to clench. If necessary, your doctor may also:
Place temporary supportive pins in the toes.
Remove some pieces of bone.
Straighten the toe.
The outpatient procedure typically requires around two hours for completion.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of mallet toes, contact your doctor right away. With proper treatment, functionality can likely be improved.
Metatarsalgia is a condition characterized by inflammation of the nerve between the metatarsal bones (bones between toes and ankles). The classic symptom of metatarsalgia is sharp pain in the ball of the foot.
People with metatarsalgia experience localized discomfort in the area between the arch and the toe joints, often described as the feeling of walking on pebbles. The disorder is common among athletes but also affects people who wear ill-fitting shoes on a daily basis.
Metatarsalgia problems develop when something alters the mechanics of the foot, putting too much pressure on the metatarsal bones. Usually multiple factors are involved.
Causes of metatarsalgia include:
Age (as we age the pads on our feet thin out).
Athletic activities (runners have a high risk of developing metatarsalgia).
Foot deformities, including hammertoe, high arches, and bunions.
Fractures of the metatarsal bones.
Obesity (excess weight puts more pressure on the forefoot when walking).
Poorly fitting shoes (tight, narrow shoes put more pressure on the ball of the foot).
The classic symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the forefoot and pain in the toes. The pain becomes worse during activity and increases when walking barefoot on hard surfaces.
Metatarsalgia symptoms may develop suddenly or over time. If you are experiencing persistent pain in the ball of your foot, talk to your doctor. It is best not to ignore any type of foot pain that lasts more than a few days.
Metatarsalgia is painful and annoying, but it is not a serious condition. The following conservative measures can usually relieve metatarsalgia pain:
Change in footwear.
Rest and ice.
It is important to be proactive when it comes to metatarsalgia pain. Limit your physical activity, avoid ill-fitting footwear, and maintain a healthy body weight. If pain persists, consult a physician to rule out other foot disorders or injuries.
Osteomyelitis is the medical term for a bone infection. It can occur anywhere in the body but commonly affects the foot. Infections can reach the bone through trauma or spread to the bone via the bloodstream.
Osteomyelitis requires aggressive treatment to prevent the spread of infection. Without rapid intervention, osteomyelitis may become chronic and eventually lead to the death of bone and tissue.
Osteomyelitis can develop from a fungal, bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. There are several types of osteomyelitis that are classified based on how the infection begins and where it occurs in the body.
Osteomyelitis can develop from the following sources:
Infections from injury or trauma - Bone infections can develop after an injury like a fracture or from an open wound. Infection can also develop following surgery.
Infections in people with poor circulation or compromised immune systems - Osteomyelitis can develop quickly in people with diabetes and other medical conditions that inhibit the body's response to infection.
Infections that spread via the bloodstream - Infections may begin elsewhere in the body and travel to a specific site of bone via the bloodstream.
Osteomyelitis symptoms are varied. In many cases, the symptoms are similar to other conditions, making osteomyelitis difficult to diagnose.
Signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis include:
Drainage of pus near an open wound.
Fatigue and lethargy.
Pain in the infected area.
Sweating, chills, and nausea.
Swelling, warmth, and redness near the infected area.
When osteomyelitis occurs after an injury like a broken bone, it is easy to attribute symptoms to the initial injury, rather than a growing infection. That is why it is important to see a physician as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Osteomyelitis is a serious condition that requires aggressive, prompt intervention. The goal of osteomyelitis treatment is to eliminate the underlying infection, save the infected bone and tissue, and prevent spreading the infection to other areas in the body.
Osteomyelitis is treated with antibiotics and surgery. Some patients with acute osteomyelitis can be treated with antibiotics and monitored as outpatients. Others may require hospital admittance. Surgery is often necessary to remove dead bone and prevent further spread of the infection.
Surgical osteomyelitis treatment may include the following:
Bone and tissue grafts.
Opening up and draining pus from the infected area.
Removal of dead bone and tissue.
Removal of foreign objects like surgical screws and plates.
If you are at a higher risk of developing osteomyelitis, make sure to call your physician as soon as possible if any symptoms of infection arise.
If you have ever experienced dislocation or dysfunction of a foot tendon, including the peroneal tendons, you know the pain such problems can cause. The two peroneal tendons, which run side-by-side behind the outer ankle bone, attach the outer ankle bone to the mid-foot bones while stabilizing the foot and ankle. The peroneal tendons are susceptible to strains, tears, dislocation, and inflammation, all of which can cause discomfort and other symptoms. When treated promptly, peroneal tendon problems are usually resolved. An experienced podiatrist can improve or restore the tendon's functioning.
Common causes of peroneal tendon dysfunction or dislocation include:
Activities involving repetitive foot movements.
History of tendon inflammation (tendonitis).
Previous peroneal tendon injuries.
Previous tendon dislocation.
Symptoms of peroneal tendon dislocation and dysfunction include:
A snapping sound at the time of tendon injury.
Changes in the height of the foot's arch.
Pain, swelling, and weakness or instability of the foot and/or ankle.
Without treatment, a peroneal tendon dysfunction can cause changes in the shape of the arch and increase your risk of degenerative tears, dislocation, and rupture of the tendon. Therefore, it is important to seek treatment for a peroneal tendon dysfunction as soon as you notice symptoms.
Treatment options for a peroneal tendon dysfunction depend on the type and severity of dysfunction, and include:
Immobilizing the foot and ankle (i.e. with a cast or splint).
Bracing the foot and ankle (i.e. with an orthopedic device).
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a peroneal tendon dislocation or dysfunction, contact your doctor. An experienced podiatrist can provide the treatment you need.
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) is a condition that affects the posterior tibial tendon (the band of tissue that connects the calf with the mid-foot bones and supports the foot while walking). When this tendon becomes inflamed, torn, or over-stretched you may develop PTTD. While PTTD typically causes pain and other symptoms, the condition is treatable. With the help of an experienced podiatrist, you can have your foot functionality restored.
PTTD occurs when the tendon becomes inflamed (tendonitis), which can occur for a number of reasons (e.g. tendon injury and inherent abnormalities in the tendon itself). Further PTTD risk factors include:
Age – tendons lose elasticity as you age.
Certain inflammatory diseases including Reiter's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.
Foot trauma or injury.
Wearing ill-fitting dress shoes, especially high heels.
Athletes are also more prone to developing PTTD given their heightened risk of suffering foot injuries.
Symptoms of PTTD include:
A bulge in the outer side of the foot or ankle.
Difficulty standing on the toes.
Loss of the arch of the foot.
Pain in foot and/or ankle.
Pain in the arch of the foot.
Treatment of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
Treatment for PTTD depends on how far the condition has progressed and on the severity of your symptoms.
In PTTD's early stages, treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or immobilization of the foot (with crutches or orthotic supports) can help the tendon heal.
As the condition progresses, more invasive treatment might be necessary. Tendon surgery allows a doctor to remove inflamed tendon tissue, repair damaged bone and tendon tissue, and realign the bones as necessary.
Contact a skilled podiatrist if you are experiencing the symptoms of PTTD or would like more information on the condition. Your doctor can give you complete information on treatment options.
Sesamoiditis occurs when there is pain and inflammation around the sesamoid bones, which are located within the tendons that connect to the big toe. The sesamoid bones act as a lever, allowing the big toe to move up and down. These bones are used when we push off from the big toe during activities such as walking.
Sesamoiditis is often caused by pressure or trauma. The sesamoid bones are located under part of the foot that bears a significant amount of weight, and when they are overused or excessive pressure is placed on them, it can lead to pain and inflammation. For instance, runners may suffer from sesamoiditis after running up hill or increasing the length of their workouts. Similarly, individuals who have naturally high-arched feet and those who regularly wear high heels may also suffer from sesamoiditis due to the pressure placed on the balls of their feet.
Symptoms of sesamoiditis appear gradually and may include:
Pain in the ball of the foot that is aggravated by movement of the big toe joint.
Pain that worsens when walking with bare feet or on hard surfaces.
Swelling on the bottom of the feet.
An X-ray can be taken to confirm whether the symptoms you have are caused by sesamoiditis.
The first step to treating sesamoiditis is to refrain from the activity that is causing pain. Resting the foot can be very beneficial in allowing it time to heal. However, when walking is necessary, the big toe should be strapped down to prevent the joint from moving.
Anti-inflammatory medication may also be taken to help reduce pain, and ice can be applied to the sole of the foot to reduce swelling.
If the condition is more severe, cortisone injections may be administered to relieve pain and inflammation. While the foot is healing, it is especially important to wear comfortable shoes with cushioned soles to protect the ball of the foot from additional pressure.
If you are noticing signs of sesamoiditis, schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine what treatment is best for you.
Tarsal coalition is a congenital condition that occurs when the tarsal bones in the foot fail to separate. The tarsal bones are the seven bones in the heel and mid-foot and are necessary for the foot to function properly. Since tarsal coalition affects the way the bones move as we walk, it can put stress on the joints resulting in pain and muscle spasms. About 1 percent of the population suffers from tarsal coalition.
Tarsal coalition is an inherited condition that occurs during fetal development, when the cells that form the tarsal bones do not separate properly. In some cases, tarsal coalition can occur later in life as a result of trauma, arthritis, or infection.
Symptoms of tarsal coalition do not usually present themselves until the bones are more fully developed. While the disorder is sometimes not diagnosed until adulthood, symptoms are often first noticed between the ages of 9 and 16. Symptoms may include:
Muscle fatigue in the legs.
Muscle spasms that cause the feet to turn outward.
Pain on the outside and top of the foot.
Pain when weight is placed on the feet.
Stiffness of the ankle and foot.
Since many symptoms of tarsal coalition are also associated with other conditions, an MRI or CT scan may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
Tarsal coalition can usually be treated without surgery. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and muscle spasms by limiting joint movement.
Often, non-surgical treatments are effective in treating tarsal coalition. Some of these treatments may include:
Cast or boot to immobilize the foot, allowing it time to heal.
Cortisone injections to reduce pain and inflammation.
Exercises and gentle massages to help improve range of motion.
Orthotic devices to help relieve pain and limit motion at the joint.
If non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful, surgery might be considered. Surgery usually involves removing the coalitions of bone to allow for normal range of motion. However, if severe arthritis is involved, the bones can be fused together to limit the motion of the joint thereby reducing pain. Following surgery, the foot will be kept immobilized in a cast or splint while it heals. During this time, exercises can help promote muscle tone and increase range of motion.
If you are suffering from tarsal coalition, speak with your doctor to find the best treatment plan.