What is a Foot Deformity?

Article Details
  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Images By: Anja Disseldorp, Brunobarillari
  • Last Modified Date: 11 September 2019
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A foot deformity refers to any abnormality that occurs within any part of the foot, including the muscles, bones or tendons. Abnormalities in the foot are often present at birth, but in less common cases can be acquired as the result of ill-fitting shoes, trauma, or other circumstances that cause manipulation of the foot. The treatment option will typically depend on the specific deformity; some conditions can be treated with surgery, while others may only require manual reshaping of the foot through the use of braces or other foot supports.

One example of a common foot deformity is congenital talipes equinovarus, which is more commonly referred to as clubfoot. Clubfoot is a condition in which the joints of one or both feet may have a bent appearance. People with this condition may walk with their ankles turned sharply inward, or on the sides of their feet due to the affected joints. This condition is generally a genetic birth defect and may be treated by gradually stretching the tendons until the foot has a normal appearance or the tendons may be manipulated surgically in more serious cases. If clubfoot is not treated, a person may have severe difficulty walking.


Foot deformities can also affect the arch of the foot. One such arch-related foot deformity is called pes planus, more commonly known as flat foot. With this condition, the arches of a person’s feet are collapsed and can cause pain or difficulty walking. Another type of arch-related deformity is pes cavus, otherwise known as high arch, in which the arch of the foot is much more distinctive than normal and may cause difficulty evenly distributing weight. Deformities with the arch of the foot can have a wide variety of potential causes, including genetic disorders present at birth, injuries to the tendons, or simply may occur with age, and may be treated with gentle manipulation of the foot tendons over time.

Hammer toe is a mild foot deformity that is generally an acquired condition. With this condition, the joints of the toes become bent, giving them an appearance similar to a hammer. This joint bending is often due to wearing constrictive shoes that force the toes to bend. It may also be caused by disorders affecting the bones and joints, such as arthritis. Physical therapy and wearing supportive orthopedic shoes can help treat the condition, while surgery may be performed in cases that don’t respond well to the more conservative treatment options.



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