Foot deformities can be unsightly, embarrassing, and even painful. What’s more, deformities like bunions, hammertoes, and related conditions are progressive in nature – meaning they will continue to worsen over time when left untreated, and can only be completely corrected with surgical intervention.
But there is good news:
Many conservative (nonsurgical) treatment options can help slow, or altogether stop, the progression of these deformities and relieve any painful symptoms you may be experiencing.
So if you notice any wayward toes or other abnormalities in your feet, like flat arches, come visit the Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona right away – the sooner you get the treatment you need, the easier it will be to put your feet back on track.
When Your Feet Get Off Track
Bunions, hammertoes, and other related conditions can develop as a result of affected toes that bend abnormally at various toe joints; flat foot is a condition that affects the arches of the feet. However, most foot deformities – whether in the toes or the arches – are usually caused by the same culprit: imbalance in foot structure and biomechanics. (But more on this in a bit.)
To help you understand which particular issue you are experiencing, let’s take a look at some of the most common foot deformity conditions:
Bunions. A partial dislocation of the big toe at its base joint. The end of the big toe slowly dislocates further and further toward the smaller toes while the end of the first metatarsal at the base of the toe becomes more pronounced, creating an obvious bump on the inside of the foot.
Hammertoes. When the toe bends downward at the middle joint and the front portion points down, towards the ground. This condition is most commonly experienced in the second toe (right next to the big toe).
Mallet Toes. This condition is similar to hammertoes. There is a single, downward bend in the toe. The key distinction is that instead of happening at the middle joint, the abnormal bend is in the joint closest to the tip of the toe. As with hammertoes, this is most often seen in the second toe.
Claw Toes. This condition typically – but not always – affects all of the smaller four toes. In addition to downward bending at both the middle and top toe joints, there is also an upwards bend at the metatarsophalangeal joint, where the toe connects to the foot.
Flat Feet. A condition that can be categorized as either rigid or flexible, flat foot deformity is essentially the absence of arches in the feet – either when standing (flexible flat foot) or at all times (rigid flat feet).
Finding the Culprit
As we’ve already mentioned, these foot deformities typically develop in response to an imbalance in foot structure or biomechanics.
In the case of toe deformities, like hammertoes and claw toes, discrepancies between the strength of muscles and connective tissues found on the tops and bottoms of toes are usually to blame – a weaker muscle or tendon on the top of the toe will cause the toe to bend downward and leave it unable to straighten itself.
Now, there is some misconception that toe deformities are caused by ill-fitting shoes, especially women’s high heels. Though the logic behind this is fairly reasonable, the truth is it isn’t entirely correct – a pair of shoes that places excessive pressure in the front area is more likely to exacerbate an already existing problem, rather than create one in the first place.
Similarly, flat feet don’t develop due to lack of arch support in footwear. Instead, the structure of the feet (often passed down through genetics) is the actual culprit for causing the deformity. So if you know that your parents and/or grandparents have dealt with these foot deformities, chances are you are at risk for developing them as well. Bad shoes, however, can still accelerate the development of a problem you were already likely to acquire.
Putting Your Feet Back on Track
If you or someone you love is dealing with wayward toes or flat arches, your best course of action is to get professional treatment to help manage painful symptoms and prevent the deformity from progressing.
When you come visit our office, we will assess the full nature of your condition and put together an appropriate treatment plan that works for you and your lifestyle. If we determine that your condition is in its early stages of development, conservative techniques might be all you need.
These may include:
- Footwear modifications
- Custom orthotics therapy
- Pressure pads
- Stretching exercises
In severe cases, however, when the condition has progressed too far and does not respond to conservative treatment efforts, a surgical intervention may be required. But no worries – advancements in surgical techniques have allowed us to make smaller incisions, speed up healing, and completely eliminate the need for hospital stays. This means less pain, fewer complications, and quicker recovery!
So don’t wait to get the help you need. All you have to do is give us a call!
Chandler Office: (480) 963-9000
You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you.