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Foot deformities

Foot deformities caused by birth defects or external damages could lead to complications. Depending on the type and severity, a foot deformity can go unnoticed or cause pain when walking and performing daily activities. Deformities that cause problems can be treated through either nonsurgical or surgical care.

  • Types

    • Cavus foot (high arch) is when there is an abnormally high arch in the foot and the ball of the foot carries most of the weight in movement.
    • Clubfoot is when an infant is born with feet turned inward and pointed down. If left untreated, clubfoot causes inability to walk normally.
    • Equinus foot is when the foot points down with the heel off the ground. This condition forces you to walk on the front and middle part of the foot.
    • Fallen arch is when the arches in the feet lower over time. Fallen arches can develop into flat foot — when the sole completely touches the ground.
    • Splayfloot (flat arch) is a deformity in which the bones in the foot spread out and widen the front of the foot.
  • Symptoms

    • Calluses due to thickened skin
    • Changes in gait
    • Pain in feet and other areas of the body
    • Strain on other joints
  • Prevention

    • Wearing proper footwear can prevent several types of toe and foot deformities.
    • Foot deformities determined by genetics are correctable, but not preventable.
  • Risk factors

    • Health conditions, such as muscle or nerve conditions that weaken the muscles
    • Crowding in the uterus
    • A parent who was born with a foot deformity
  • Diagnosis

    • Physical examination. The physician will examine the area to suggest proper treatment options, rehabilitation or preventive care.
    • Imaging. The healthcare provider may order X-rays to aid in formulating a diagnosis.
  • Treatment

    The healthcare provider will recommend either nonsurgical or surgical treatment based on the child’s specific diagnosis.

    • Cavus is often treated through bracing or with orthotic devices and shoe modifications to support and stabilize the foot.
    • Clubfoot treatment may include stretching and casting legs and feet or surgical treatment.
    • Equinus is often treated with orthotic devices, heel lift inserts, night splints or physical therapy.
    • Fallen arch can be treated with bracing and orthotic devices. Surgery can be effective for flatfoot.
    • Splayfoot can be helped with shoe inserts and physical therapy. Surgery can realign the toes or repair damaged areas.
  • Follow-up care

    • After surgery, physician instructions could include rest, ice, compression and elevation (RICE method), use of cane or crutches to assist in recovery, and walking restrictions after surgery.
    • Discuss nonsurgical follow-up care specific to your child’s diagnosis with his or her physician.