Foot deformities are a heterogeneous group of congenital and acquired conditions involving structural abnormalities or muscular imbalances that affect the function of the foot. The deformities are classified according to clinical appearance. The most recognizable congenital foot deformity is the clubfoot deformity, which is characterized by plantar flexion of the ankle, inversion of the foot, and adduction of the forefoot. Manipulative treatment of congenital foot deformities, which requires manual repositioning and serial casting, should be initiated immediately after birth. The outcome depends primarily on whether the deformity responds well to manual repositioning (flexible deformities). Resistant deformities often require surgical correction.
|Club foot|| || || |
|Pes cavus (high-arch)|| || |
|Metatarsus adductus|| |
Congenital flat foot (pes planus)
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|Acquired flat foot|| || || |
|Splay foot|| || |
|Calcaneal spur|| |
Diagnosis and treatment of foot deformities
- Complete evaluation of feet, knees, hips, and spine
Flexible vs. resistant foot deformities
Evaluation of foot deformities, according to whether the deformity may be corrected with active (muscular contraction) or passive (manual correction by examining physician) manipulation.
- Resistant deformity: difficult or impossible to correct → indicates a structural abnormality
- Flexible deformity: may be easily corrected → indicates a muscular imbalance
- Evaluation of foot deformities, according to whether the deformity may be corrected with active (muscular contraction) or passive (manual correction by examining physician) manipulation.
- X-ray: evaluate skeletal deformities
Basic principles of treatment
- Correctable foot deformities: foot orthotics and manipulative treatment with casting and splinting are usually successful
- Resistant foot deformities: surgical correction is usually required to reposition structures or relieve muscle contractures
Prompt treatment of congenital foot deformities is vital! Surgery may often be avoided if the manipulation is implemented correctly and consistently! If muscular imbalances are not corrected at an early age, they may result in structural deformities and often require surgery!
Clubfoot (talipes equinovarus)
Definition: Clubfoot is a complex foot deformity that is comprised of five fixed deformities.
- Cavus (high arch): distinct arching of the foot
- One of the most common congenital anomalies (∼ 1/1000 births)
- Bilateral involvement in ∼ 50% of cases
- Congenital: most common form
- Acquired: rare (e.g., secondary to neurological conditions or trauma)
- Differential diagnosis: postural clubfoot
- Complications: pathological strain with ulceration and early onset of arthrosis
- Manipulative treatment: the Ponseti-method (manual correction with serial casting )
- Achilles tenotomy: the equinus foot position may be corrected by surgically by lengthening the Achilles tendon with a Z-shaped suture
- Foot abduction brace (or Ponseti brace)
Manipulative treatment should begin within 24 hours of birth!
- Definition: spreading apart of the metatarsal bones with subsequent lowering of the metatarsal heads
- Epidemiology: most common foot deformity
- Etiology: muscular and connective tissue weakness (worsened by unsupportive footwear)
- Clinical features
Complication: Morton metatarsalgia (Morton neuroma) 
- Sudden, shooting pain on the plantar side of the foot (between the 3rd and 4thmetatarsal)
- Typical signs
- The forefoot is held firmly with one hand in the medial-lateral direction.
- Pressure is applied to the sole of the foot between the metatarsal heads (at the location of symptoms).
If pain is perceived (especially on the plantar side), it indicates Morton neuroma.
- This maneuver may also produce a “click” or snapping sensation, which is known as Mulder's click.
- Mulder sign
Metatarsus adductus, curved foot (metatarsus varus)
- Definition: adduction of the forefoot
Etiology: : unclear; presents immediately at birth
- Increased risk in cases of intrauterine malposition
- Association with hip dysplasia
- Pathogenesis: a muscular imbalance between the adduction muscles and fibularis muscles is suspected to be the underlying cause
- Clinical features
- Tibial torsion
- Femoral anteversion
- Flexible curved feet do not usually require treatment.
- Rigid curved feet or flexible curved feet that do not reposition spontaneously require conservative treatment.
- Splintage and casting to correct the position of the foot
- Orthotics and inserts
- Surgery is required in cases that do not respond sufficiently to conservative treatment.