Human feet are complex structures. Of course, they must be to support the entire body and allow movement. To accomplish these important tasks, feet are comprised of many muscles, bones, and connective tissues. With numerous pieces and substructures, every foot is unique. There are general commonalities, though, everyone expects to see with regards to basic foot structure. Anything outside of these expectations can possibly affect foot health and performance in different ways.
Types of Foot Deformities
Some foot deformities are experienced by younger patients and include:
- Clubfoot – This is a range of congenital (present at birth) abnormalities wherein a baby’s foot is twisted into an unusual position. Clubfoot is caused by shortened tendons, which connect muscles to bone and is a common condition. It is often treated successfully without surgery, but surgical intervention is needed later in some cases.
- Intoeing – There are basically three different conditions which can cause intoeing for a child – metatarsus adductus (curved foot), tibia torsion (twisted shinbone), and femoral anteversion (twisted thighbone). Intoeing can seem concerning for new parents, but these conditions do not normally cause pain and usually correct themselves over time.
The arch is a specific area of the foot wherein the structure is not always as it should be, specifically with conditions such as:
- Acquired Adult Flatfoot Deformity – This is a progressive (happens over time) flattening of the foot arch. It develops as the posterior tibial tendon starts to weaken, and can advance from causing pain along the tendon to eventually resulting in deformity and arthritis in the ankle and hindfoot. Treatment options do vary but can include custom orthotics, physical, therapy and even surgery in rare cases.
- Cavus Foot – Whereas flatfoot entails having low arches, cavus foot is a condition of high, rigid arches. The condition causes supination, which means the foot does not rotate to the degree it is supposed to during the portion of the step that happens between the heel strike and push from the toes. This causes excessive forces to be placed on the outer foot edge.
There are also toe deformities that sometimes need to be corrected surgically, such as:
- Bunions – Bunions are a rather common toe deformity. There is a popular misconception that bunions are caused by women’s footwear, but this is typically an inherited condition (albeit, one that can become worse over time by wearing tight, high-heeled shoes). The imbalance in the joint at the base of the big toe creates a situation wherein the big toe starts to angle inwards, which drives the joint further out of its normal position.
- Hammertoes– Along with the similar claw and mallet toe conditions, this is another deformity caused by structural imbalance. In these cases, though, the imbalance happens between muscles and tendons on the tops and bottoms of toes. The leads to toes that are curled and can make it difficult to wear normal shoes.
Foot Deformities and Diabetes
Abnormal foot structures are a source of concern for diabetic individuals for two different reasons. First, having an existing deformity (such as a hammertoe) increases the risk of calluses, corns, and other seemingly minor issues that have the potential to break down over time and become dangerous foot ulcers. Second, impaired circulation and diabetic neuropathy can combine to cause a deformity known as Charcot foot.
Charcot foot is a severe deformity that starts developing when weakened bones in the foot—which are deprived by impaired blood flow of the essential nutrients to keep them strong—break, even from normal use. Peripheral nerves damaged by the diabetes are unable to transmit the painful sensation that would normally indicate a problem. As such, an affected individual is unaware of the damage and continues performing normal activities, which leads to further breakage. This cycle repeats until the deformed foot is severely misshapen.
When your foot has an unusual structure, it can cause pain or difficulty, so come see Dr. Yuko Miyazaki for the treatment and care you need. Dr. Miyazaki will evaluate your condition and then create a plan to relieve your symptoms and improve foot function. Contact our Berkeley, CA foot doctor office by calling (510) 647-3744 or fill out our online form to request an appointment today.