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Learn about your foot deformity, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your foot deformity from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Foot Deformity Checker

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Your Foot Deformity May Also be Known as:
Foot change
Foot changing shape
Foot feels different
Foot feels strange
Foot feels weird
Foot looks different
Foot looks strange
Foot looks weird

Foot Deformity Symptoms

Foot deformities are a wide array of conditions that affect the bones and tendons in the feet. A foot deformity can be as common as a bunion or a hammer toe, or more rare like fused toes (tarsal coalition), a club foot, a flat foot, mallet toes and various other foot conditions.

The symptoms and names of various foot deformities are listed below.

  • Bunions. Picture women wearing shoes very pinched at the toe and how it would push the big toe inward. Eventually, what happens in both men and women who wear cramped-box shoes is that as the top of the toe moves in, the joint at the base of the toe protrudes outward, which causes toe pain as shoes wear against the protrusion. It can also throw off the gait and cause imbalance.

  • Claw toe. Claw toes are ones which begin to turn downward, resembling a bird's claw. This typically occurs on the smaller toes, not the larger ones. Claw toes can become a permanent condition if left untreated.

  • Hammer toe(s). When you wear tight, uncomfortable shoes too often, this can cause the toes to become permanently bent, or "propped" up at the joint. This condition is called a hammer toe.

  • Mallet toes. The opposite of hammer toes. Here, the toes dip downward at the joint, causing great discomfort when wearing shoes.

  • Tarsal coalition. When a child is still growing, some of their toes can fuse together, especially at the upper part of the toe, where the toe joins the rest of the foot. This condition needs to be addressed immediately to ensure the child is not permanently affected.

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Clubfoot. With a clubfoot, the muscles on one side of the foot are shorter than the other, causing the foot to turn sharply inward. This forces the patient to walk on the outside of the foot. A club foot deformity must be treated when the child is still an infant, to prevent permanent deformity.

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Flatfeet (Pes planus). A flat foot has no arch at all. A flat foot is the most common structural deformity of the foot. It can be a congenital or acquired condition. Many persons who carry very heavy weights or become obese can suffer with a flat foot from all the pressure placed upon the arches. Injury to the posterior tibial tendon of the foot can also cause arches to fall and a flat foot condition to develop.

Foot Deformity Causes Overview

Foot deformities are acquired or congenital. Acquired foot disorders may arise because of wearing ill-fitting footwear, such as hammer toes and bunions, or because of gaining a lot of weight swiftly (bone spurs). Some conditions can be caused by injury as well. If you've broken one or several toes, for example, you are more likely than others to develop a condition such as hammer toe. With regard to congenital disorders like a club foot or fused toes, typically these are caused by simple genetics.

Top 10 Foot Deformity Causes

  1. 1.Morton Neuroma

    Morton neuroma is nerve damage between the 2nd and 3rd toes, often found in women who run or wear tight high heels.

    You can try to make things better simply by changing your footwear like adopting orthotics, for example. Go to the doctor for further workup, however, if that doesn't work. There, your doctor will perform a physical exam and maybe take an MRI. Treatment for tougher cases include injections of corticosteroids. Surgery is a last resort but works well.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    foot numbness, pain in the sole of the foot, pain in both feet, pain when touching the foot, pain in the outside of the foot
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Skin Infection of the Foot

    Cellulitis is a common and possibly dangerous skin infection if left untreated. It is typically caused by bacteria living on the skin getting into the skin itself.

    You should visit your primary care doctor as soon as possible for a sick visit. He or she will examine the infection and possibly provide antibiotics.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    fever, foot pain, foot redness, warm red foot swelling, swollen ankle
    Symptoms that always occur with skin infection of the foot:
    foot redness, foot pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.Influenza

    Influenza, or Flu, is an infection of the airway caused by the flu virus, which passes through the air and enters the body through the nose or mouth. The symptoms are similar to those of a cold, but the flu is usually more serious.

    If your flu-like symptoms are existing for less than 48 hours, it might be helpful to seek care by telephone or in a walk-in-clinic to get a course of oseltamivir (Tamiflu). Most people will get better on their own by drinking lots of fluids and taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetominophen (Tylenol) to help with aches or fever.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, cough, muscle aches
    Symptoms that never occur with influenza:
    headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  4. 4.Viral (Norovirus) Infection

    Noroviruses are a group of related viruses that leads to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramps. These viruses cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. When the diarrhea and/or vomiting is severe, dehydration can occur. Symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, dizziness, urinating less frequently and dark urine.

    You can safely treat this condition at home. Make sure you drink plenty of water and fluids (Gatorade, Pediatlyte) to replace what is lost with diarrhea. If symptoms of dehydration occur or you are unable to keep down any liquids, seek care at your primary care physician or an urgent care.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), nausea, headache, stomach bloating
    Symptoms that always occur with viral (norovirus) infection:
    hidden: gastroenteritis symptoms
    Symptoms that never occur with viral (norovirus) infection:
    severe abdominal pain, throbbing headache, severe headache, tarry stool
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  5. 5.Infective Endocarditis

    The endocardium is the tissue that lines the inside of the heart chambers and the valves of the heart. This lining can become infected with bacteria. If so, small clumps of infectious material can prevent the valves from opening and closing properly, and when the clumps break off they may travel to other parts of the body, potentially causing serious problems.

    Proceed to the ER immediately. If an infection of the heart is suspected, you will be admitted to the hospital where several blood samples will be taken to test for bacteria and fungi. Antibiotics or anti-fungal medications will be used right away to treat the infection. In rare cases, a valve replacement surgery is needed to change out the infected valve.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, abdominal pain (stomach ache), loss of appetite, being severely ill, headache
    Symptoms that always occur with infective endocarditis:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

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  6. 6.Low Blood Sodium

    Hyponatremia is a deficiency in sodium. Sodium is one of the most important nutrients in the body, needed for nerves to conduct signals, muscles to contract, and blood pressure to be maintained at safe levels, etc. A deficiency in sodium can cause severe, widespread symptoms.

    You need to seek care immediately. A walk-in clinic will likely be able to help bring your sodium levels back up to normal levels, safely.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, headache, abdominal pain (stomach ache), dizziness
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  7. 7.Athlete's Foot (Tinea Pedis)

    Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the feet and/or toes. Warm, moist environments and community showering are common causes of this type of infection.

    Over-the-counter treatments are quite effective at treating athlete's foot. They can come in the form of sprays, ointments, or even oral antifungals. Consider replacing shower footwear and bleaching any bathroom floors.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    foot redness, foot/toe itch, spontaneous foot pain, foot skin changes, peeling between the toes
    Symptoms that always occur with athlete's foot (tinea pedis):
    foot redness
    Symptoms that never occur with athlete's foot (tinea pedis):
    toe injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  8. 8.Irritant Contact Dermatitis

    Contact dermatitis is a condition in which the skin becomes red, sore, or inflamed after direct contact with a substance. This condition may occur after repeated and prolonged exposure to substances such as water, detergents (soaps, bleach), solvents (gasoline), acids, powders, dust, and soil. The onset of the skin reaction is usually within 48 hours of contact with the substance.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own. The main treatment for this disease is to avoid the substance that triggers the skin inflammation. Moisturizer can also be helpful to provide relief for your inflamed skin.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    foot pain, foot redness, thickened skin on the foot, rough skin on the foot
    Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis:
    foot redness
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  9. 9.Chronic Sinusitis

    Chronic sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses (hollow cavities behind the nose & cheeks) that lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or years.

    You should visit your primary care physician, who may send you to a specialist to examine your nasal passages. A doctor may prescribe a topical or oral corticosteroid.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, trouble sleeping, headache, congestion, runny nose
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Chronic Kidney Disease

    Chronic kidney disease, also known as chronic renal failure, is a disorder caused by gradual loss of kidney function. It is most common in elderly individuals.

    You should make an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms as soon as possible.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, decreased sex drive, unintentional weight loss
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Foot Deformity Treatments and Relief

Foot deformities can be treated through bracing, casting, wearing supportive devices to correct the foot deformity, or surgery.

For more serious disorders, like fused toes, claw toes, or a clubfoot, surgery is necessary early in childhood to prevent permanent disability.

Some acquired conditions, like bunions, can be corrected through braces or plastic toe separators, that gradually, as one wears them while sleeping, separate the big toe from the second toe and back into its normal position. This will slowly correct the inward turning toe, which alleviates the protruding bone from rubbing against shoes.

Often for conditions like hammer toes, a podiatrist might recommend exercises such as picking up marbles with the toe or stretching the toes manually by hand several times a day or wearing straps and other foot devices that help correct the bent part of the toe.

In short, physical therapy in addition to wearing devices which help to correct the deformity are the basic courses of treatment for less serious foot deformities while surgery is required for conditions like a club foot or fused toes.

FAQs About Foot Deformity

Here are some frequently asked questions about foot deformity.

Can diabetes lead to to a foot deformity?

Yes, diabetes can lead to a deformity called a Charcot foot. This deformity comes from loss of the ability to sense feeling and pressure on the foot. To prevent deformity to the foot, it is necessary to seek a physician and adequate primary care to properly and adequately manage diagnosis your diabetes.

How can arthritis cause a foot deformity?

Arthritis causes a foot deformity through inflammation and eventually breakdown of the joints of the foot. There are different types of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis breaks down joints and bone by causing inflammation to erode healthy bone. Osteoarthritis occurs with wear and tear over a lifetime, and after the outer layer of bone is eroded, this can cause a joint space to collapse — causing a deformity.

Does persistent wearing of high heels lead to a foot deformity?

Yes, persistent wearing of high heels — especially heels that are too tight — can lead to a splaying of the joint at the base of the big toe or the pinky toe. It is particularly aggravated by wearing narrow shoes or narrow high heels. It can also lead to formation of a bunion as the big toe is pressed inward and the weight of the body is forced onto the ball of the big toe.

Are all foot deformities painful?

No, all foot deformities are not painful. In fact, some foot deformities can be caused by a loss of sensation in the foot. Diabetic foot deformities, like a Charcot joint, are caused by loss of pressure sensation in the foot of a diabetic patient. While they can become painful later on from damage to the bone, they are often not painful early on.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Foot Deformity

  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Are you having any difficulty walking?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our foot deformity symptom checker.

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Foot Deformity Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced foot deformity have also experienced:

    • 4% Foot Pain
    • 3% Bloody Vaginal Discharge
    • 3% Fatigue
  • People who have experienced foot deformity were most often matched with:

    • 3% Morton Neuroma
    • 3% Skin Infection of the Foot
    • 3% Influenza
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

Foot Deformity Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having foot deformity.

Take a quiz