Deformities of the foot or ankle may be present from birth or may develop over time. They can cause pain and loss of mobility and, in some cases, this can become severe. We diagnose and treat a wide range of foot and ankle deformities, from the most common types (such as bunions and high arches) through to valgus ankle, where the foot turns sideways away from the opposite foot. Some of the most common types of foot and ankle deformities are outlined below.

Causes of Deformities

  • Bunions (also called Hallux Valgus). A bunion is a painful bump in the joint at the base of the big toe. The bones at the front of the foot are pushed out of place, causing the big toe to point inwards towards the other toes and forcing the joint out of place. Genetic factors, injuries to your foot and wearing shoes that are too narrow or tight can all contribute to the formation of bunions.
  • Flat feet. Our feet are naturally arched but when someone has flat feet, the arches disappear when walking or standing. Often the condition appears in children and resolves itself without any interventions.
  • High arches. In contrast to flat feet, when someone has high arches the sole of the foot is abnormally raised or hollow in appearance when walking or standing. The condition can be hereditary or the result of an underlying neurological or orthopaedic condition. It can become very painful.
  • Hammertoe, claw toe, mallet toe. These are all deformities that affect the toes. Hammertoe normally affects the second toe, causing it to remain bent downwards. Claw toe is similar and may be related to an underlying condition, while mallet toe can affect any toe and causes the joint closes to the toenail to bend downwards.
  • Valgus ankle. This causes the foot to turn sideways away from the opposite foot.
  • Vargus ankle. This causes the foot to turn sideways towards the opposite foot, which is what commonly happens when you sprain your ankle.

Symptoms of Deformities

Symptoms vary depending on the type of deformity and how severe it is. You may experience pain and loss of mobility, normally when walking or standing. Deformities may contribute to weakness in the joints creating an increased risk of falls and there may be a link between certain types of foot or ankle deformities and other medical conditions.

Diagnosis of Deformities

As well as a physical examination, you may need an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis and the extent of the problem.

Treatment of Deformities

Treatment will depend on the type of deformity, how severe it is and other factors such as your age and overall health. We will normally recommend non-invasive approaches before suggesting any kind of surgery. In the case of bunions, for example, you may find orthotics or pads provide effective pain relief if the condition is mild. High arches are normally treated with physiotherapy in the first instance and will only require surgery if the symptoms worsen or have a significant impact on your quality of life. It is important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible as you can take action to relieve your symptoms and may be able to prevent them from worsening.


We are an experienced and highly qualified team of orthopaedic surgeons using the latest surgical and non-surgical techniques to eliminate or reduce pain so our patients can experience the best possible quality of life.


Whether you have an existing diagnosis or you are keen to discover what is causing your symptoms, contact us to arrange a consultation. We can organise any tests you require and discuss your treatment options.

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