Part IV Foot Disorders And Ailments


Hammertoe is a deformity of the second (most often), third, or fourth toe involving the proximal interphalangeal joint. The joint will bend into a claw-like position. Mallet toe is another deformity, which is similar to Hammertoe, except in that it affects the distal interphalangeal joint.

  • Causes are wearing stilettos, injury, and wearing shoes that are too small.
  • Treatment will begin with orthotics and changing footwear. Surgery may be required in severe cases.

Cracked Heels

Cracked heels or heel fissures is characterized by dry skin (xerosis) cracked heels.

  • Causes range from wearing shoes that have an open-back, overweight, and friction on the heel, which may be caused by loose shoes. Diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, and autonomic neuropathy may also be linked to cracked heels.
  • Treatment may begin with over the counter ointments, balms, and creams. A pumice stone may be used first to remove the dead skin and build up of dry skin, before applying the balms.

Morton’s Neuroma

Morton’s neuroma (intermetatarsal neuroma) normally involves the area between the third and forth toes and the ball of the foot. Thickened tissue or enlargement of the nerve, which can lead to permanent nerve damage.

  • Causes are basically anything that can cause compression on the nerve such as stilettos. Individuals that suffer from bunions, flatfeet, or hammertoes are at a higher risk of getting Morton’s Neuroma at some point in their life, because of the way they step on their feet, which may cause repetitive irritation to the ball of the foot.
  • Symptoms may begin with a sensation that feels like an individual is stepping on a small gravel. Tingling, numbness, and pain are also common symptoms.
  • Treatment includes orthotics, foot pads, ice, shoe modifications, and NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil), which will relieve the inflammation and pain. Surgery is only required in severe cases.

Jones Fracture

Jones fracture involves the base of the fifth metatarsal. Decreased blood flow will tend to prolong healing. This is very common is basketball players.

  • Cause is a inversion (inward) twisting injury, repetitive pressure or stress, and over usage.
  • Symptoms include pain, edema, bruising, and pain at the site.
  • Treatment may begin with bed rest, cast, or splint. NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil), physical therapy, and surgery, but only in severe cases.
  • Diagnosis will begin with a physical exam, x-ray and a magnetic resonance imaging.

Pigeon Toe

Pigeon toe (In-Toeing) is when the feet and lower part of the legs are pointed inward. This may begin, as early as eight-fifteen months of age.

  • Causes are when there is a greater than normal bend in the upper portion of the leg. This in turn will cause the legs to rotate inward. This disorder is also linked to cerebral palsy.
  • Treatment may begin with braces or orthotic shoes.


Bowlegs (genu varum) is characterized by the legs bending outward and the knees bending downward. It is very common in small children.

  • Cause may be linked to heredity, rickets (lack of vitamin D & calcium), and Blount disease (affects the tibia).
  • Treatment is normally nothing, because pediatricians seem to think that Bowlegs corrects itself over time.

Blount Disease

The tibia is affected with abnormal growth. This normally begins around the age of two years old and will appear quickly and tends to worsen extremely quick, as well. This is basically a form of bowlegs. 

  • Causes are unknown.
  • Treatment begins with braces and surgery may be required in severe cases.

 To see the foot anatomy please click here.