Feet come in all shapes and sizes, and while there’s naturally going to be a lot of variety in how people’s feet are structured, there are times when a variation is a sign of a problem.
For most people, foot pain only comes about as a result of an injury. But for some, foot pain is actually the result of a structural deformity that was no fault of their own. Structural deformities often require surgical correction.
What Is a Structural Deformity?
When it comes to feet, structural deformity is a catch-all term that refers to a condition that affects the structure and shape of the foot to the point that it’s either painful or causes trouble with normal function.
In just about every case, a foot deformity is the result of misaligned bones, which means it won’t get better or go away with time. Even though they’re relatively small compared to the rest of your body, your foot and ankles contain about 25% of all the bones in your body, meaning it’s full of intricate pieces that can form improperly.
Some structural deformities of the feet are congenital, meaning they develop before birth, while some develop over time. The ones that develop at birth will often work themselves out naturally, but a portion of those don’t correct on their own. And over time, a foot deformity that’s left untreated can cause major problems.
Fortunately, whether a foot deformity is congenital or it was acquired at some point during your life, it can be addressed with a simple surgery. No matter the issue, no matter when it developed, there’s something that can be done to help alleviate the pain.
What Foot Structural Deformities Can Be Fixed by Surgery?
If a structural deformity of the foot is determined to be severe enough, surgery may be recommended to restore the bones. Some deformities that may require surgery include:
- High arched feet (Pes Cavus). In this condition, the arch of the foot is too high and doesn’t flatten when bearing weight—leading to clawed toes, hindfoot deformity, and even the development of plantar fascia.
- Low arched feet (Pes Planus). Otherwise known as flat feet or fallen arches, this is a condition where the arch of the foot is too low and the entire foot makes contact with a surface when standing. This can lead to painful, swollen, or stiff joints that make walking difficult.
- Curvy feet (Skew Foot). Normally, the lower leg and heel bones form a straight line. But when a patient has skew foot, the arch doesn’t hold its natural position and the foot turns inward. Causes of skew foot range from congenital tissue weakness to obesity to bone metabolism issues.
- In-toeing feet (Metatarsus Aductus). When the foot is curved inward and the toes don’t point straightforward, it’s called in-toeing. While it’s generally only found in children (it’s caused by positioning in the womb), it can sometimes be present in adults. This condition will cause a noticeable turning of the feet inward when running or walking.
What Non-Surgical Options Can Help With Foot Deformities?
Before surgery is considered, your podiatrist will utilize a number of other resources to help you deal with a foot deformity issue. These methods won’t help fix a bone formation issue, but they may help mitigate the pain enough to allow for normal activities. These treatments may be things like:
- Physical therapy and stretching exercises designed to build up strength in a weak area
- Orthotics custom-fitted for your feet that will take weight away from a certain area
- Special shoe insoles or a recommendation for a new shoe that is more accommodating for your foot shape
- An insert like a splint, a toe spacer, a strap, or a pad that protects a vulnerable area from friction and irritation
- Regularly scheduled cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
If a more conservative measure like one of these is enough to help the problem, your podiatrist will probably recommend nothing further. But if the pain persists, surgery may be best.
How Long Is Recovery From Foot Structural Deformity Surgery?
Unfortunately, recovery from surgery to correct a foot deformity can take time. For the actual surgery, there may be an overnight hospital stay required, but you’ll most likely go home the same day.
Once you’re home though, plan on your foot being in a cast for two to four weeks. During that time, you’ll be staying still with your foot elevated for the most part, but using crutches when it’s absolutely necessary to move.
After the cast, you’ll be wearing a boot for several weeks, still putting no weight on the foot for up to eight weeks. It’s not until about three months after surgery that you’ll start to wear normal shoes again, but you may still have an ankle brace during this time.
Physical therapy will probably begin around this time, and you can begin some light physical activities, but it may be up to a year before you’re fully recovered.
While surgery may seem daunting, many people begin to feel better than they did before at around the 75% recovery point. And when you consider the alternative of just living with pain for years, you’ll find surgery is worth any anxiety.
Let Omaha Foot & Ankle Specialists Handle Your Foot Deformity Surgery
If you’ve struggled to find properly fitting shoes all your life or you find yourself unable to enjoy everyday activities because of foot pain, it may be time to consider surgery. Dr. Nathan Penney and Dr. Michael Cullen have been Omaha’s premier source for foot and ankle care since 1991 and can help with smaller issues like plantar warts to larger issues that require arthroscopic surgery. If you think you may have a deformity that would be helped with surgery, call our office at 402-333-8856 or use our convenient online contact form to schedule an appointment.