Abnormally bent toes and structural misalignments in feet can make it tough to participate in your favorite activities. Even simply walking or fitting into a pair of shoes can be painful!
Worse, these deformities are almost always progressive, meaning they will only get worse over time. As the deformity worsens, so do your symptoms. That means spotting the early signs of deformity, and stepping in with treatment as soon as possible, will help you enjoy life without pain!
Common Foot and Toe Deformities
Bunions and Bunionettes
Bunions are characterized by a bulging, bony bump at the big toe joint. Typically, this condition is the result of an inherited foot structure that forces your toe out of alignment. As the big toe drifts toward the others, its joint juts outward. Bunionettes are similar, only they develop at the base of your “pinky” or little toes rather than your big ones.
Avoid narrow, pointy, and high-heeled shoes to help reduce pressure and slow progression. There are also stretches you can do and splints you can wear to hold your toe in proper position. Use pads for a layer of protection between the painful bump and your shoe. Orthotics can also help correct any structural issues that could be factoring in to your bunion formation. In severe cases, there are surgical procedures that can be considered.
This condition typically occurs in the second toe, but can involve any of the smaller toes. Due to a muscle/tendon imbalance, the tip of the toe points downward while the middle joint pushes upward, resembling the head of a hammer. The joints may be flexible at first, but can stiffen and become rigid over time, in which case surgery is the only means by which to straighten them.
Mallet and Claw Toes
These conditions are similar to hammertoes, but with different joints affected. While mallet toes also occur mainly in the second digit, they bend at the joint closest to the tip. Claw toes, on the other hand, affect all but the big toe and bend down both at the middle joint and the joint nearest the tip, while bending up where the toes meet the foot, giving them a curled, claw-like appearance
Some people have flat feet due to genetic inheritance—the arches simply never form during childhood. Others may develop this condition later in life, after an injury (or just decades of wear and tear) damage and weaken the tendons, muscles, bones, joints, and cartilage that support the arch. Painful flatfoot symptoms can often be remedied through the use of custom orthotics, which can “fill in” for your arch and provide necessary support, cushioning, and shock absorption. Reconstructive surgery to rebuild the arch may be recommended if necessary.
Bone spurs are deposits of hard calcium that can accumulate on the surface of bones. Chronic injuries like plantar fasciitis can cause swelling, pulling, and tearing of soft tissues away from bone, which allows the spur to form. Common locations include the bottom and back of the heel. Bone spurs may or may not be painful; if they continue to cause pain after the original injury has healed, they may need to be surgically removed.
Soft Tissue Masses
Sometimes, small masses such as ganglion cysts, benign tumors, or other lumps and bumps may appear on the feet. They can vary significantly in size, shape, or even color. These masses may or may not be painful on their own, but can often cause problems if they are located in a load-bearing area or are pressed on by shoes. Any unusual masses should be evaluated by a physician to determine your risk and provide treatment solutions.
All these deformities increase the likelihood of secondary complications, particularly corn and callus formation. Because deformities tend to rub against shoes, the resulting friction and pressure builds layers of rough skin. These can become as painful as the deformity itself! Smooth these rough patches away with a pumice stone and protect your bended joints and pressure areas with padding.
If you have a foot or toe deformity, or any combination of the deformities listed above, call us to learn more about your condition and what you can do about it. The sooner we can provide treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to stop suffering and start enjoying a pain-free life again! Contact our Troy or Clifton Park, NY office at (518) 273-0053. If you have a deformity, don’t delay!