Splayfoot or pes transversoplanus is a preventable splaying of the forefoot, often caused by obesity and improper footwear.
What is splayfoot?
A splayfoot is a visible and measurable deformation of the entire forefoot. It is caused by the lowering of the front arch of the foot. For comprehensive guide to crest syndrome, please visit growtheology.com.
As a result of the lowering, the toe bones visibly spread apart. Chronic overloading of the toe joints on the little and big toe and characteristic callus formation occurs.
As a result of further strain, the splayfoot develops into a painful foot, which is followed by typical malpositions and symptoms of overuse of the toes.
Among the causes that lead to the development of splayfoot are obesity, unsuitable footwear without adequate arch support, a penchant for high heels or hereditary connective tissue weaknesses. Certain bone fractures in the forefoot area can also promote splayfoot.
The so-called “march fracture” should be mentioned here in particular. It is a fatigue fracture of the metatarsal bones. It can occur when you are overexerted or when you are not used to it, such as long walks. Women are about four times more likely to be diagnosed with splayfoot than men. The reason is that women are more likely to wear unsuitable shoes with high heels.
As a result, the forefoot is loaded beyond the normal level. Tight shoes – just like shoes that are too wide – cannot prevent splayfoot in the long term if the arch of the foot is not supported. The splayfoot often remains symptom-free in the first few years.
As a result of the spreading of the forefoot, however, changed gait habits and the resulting renewed incorrect loading can occur. The increasing spreading process can lead to misalignment of the toes or joint diseases in the foot. The famous hallux valgus, the so-called hammer toe, arthrosis of the toe joints, corns or Morton’s neuroma are attributed to the splayfoot.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A splayfoot is initially recognized by the characteristic malformation of one or both feet. Typically, the forefoot is widened and dropped while the big toes shift outward. The pain occurs mainly when walking and standing. In rest, there are no complaints, insofar as no subsequent complaints have set in.
However, the changed position of the foot can lead to the development of claw toes or hammer toes. Over time, splayfoot can lead to pain and calluses on the soles of the feet. Normal walking is usually no longer possible, which can result in avoidance behavior and further malpositions in those affected. A splayfoot can be recognized by the unusual rolling movement of the sole, in which those affected roll the foot over the outer foot.
Accordingly, swelling and callus formation occur primarily on the outside of the foot. If a splayfoot is operated on early, the symptoms can be completely eliminated. If treated too late, permanent damage to the foot may already have occurred. Possible follow-up symptoms are joint wear, bone damage, skin changes or walking disorders. In the case of a congenital splayfoot in particular, a false gait can develop over the course of childhood, which affects posture.
A splayfoot can lead to overstretching of muscles and ligaments. This can result in chronic incorrect loading of the affected bones and joints. Thick, painful calluses often form under the skin of the soles. A typical complication is the so-called Morton’s neuralgia, a permanent irritation of the nerves that leads to nerve knots in the long term.
These knot-like thickenings cause severe pain and are often associated with restricted movement and sensory disturbances. A splayfoot also promotes the formation of toe deformities such as hallus valgus, mallet toe or claw toe. Once they have developed, further deformities can lead to far-reaching complications and chronic restricted mobility, which under certain circumstances can also result in mental illnesses such as depressive moods or inferiority complexes.
There are also risks with the treatment. Poorly adjusted aids can, under certain circumstances, worsen the splayfoot and cause further pain. A surgical procedure involves the usual risks: bleeding, secondary bleeding, nerve injuries, scarring and inflammation. Prescribed medication can have side effects and trigger allergies.
The most common side effects are gastrointestinal complaints, edema and blood clotting disorders. Rarely, stomach ulcers and kidney disease can occur. Intolerance to the prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs cannot be ruled out either.
When should you go to the doctor?
If splayfoot occurs, a doctor must usually be consulted. If the splayfoot is not treated properly or not in time, it can lead to serious and above all irreversible damage to the feet that can no longer be treated. The underlying disease should also be treated.
A doctor should be consulted if there are significant deformities in the feet. These can be seen with the naked eye and can occur on either one foot or both feet. Furthermore, malformations on the toes can also indicate splayfoot and should also be treated by a doctor. Most patients also show an increased formation of calluses or very severe swelling on their feet. Difficulty walking can also indicate splayfoot. If these symptoms persist and do not go away on their own, you should definitely consult a doctor.
A splayfoot can be treated by a general practitioner or an orthopaedist. As a rule, the treatment of the underlying disease is in the foreground, so that no general prognosis can be given about the further course of the disease.
Treatment & Prevention
Splayfoot can not be treated surgically. But some of the secondary diseases – such as hallux valgus – can be surgically corrected. To treat the main problem, the splayfoot must be supported early on. The disputed question, however, is what type of health shoe, pad or insole this is done with.
According to orthopaedists, some so-called health shoes promote the development of splayfoot because they are too wide in the forefoot area. Even with a footbed, the forefoot can be pushed too far apart in such shoes – for example if you are overweight or work in a standing position. In children, walking barefoot can help strengthen the arch of the foot.
Adults with splayfoot are initially advised to lose weight, wear orthopedic insoles, walk barefoot and do foot exercises. If there are already inflammatory processes in the toe area, it is helpful to immobilize the foot. It makes sense to change shoes if you have splayfoot.
You can counteract the formation of calluses with warm foot baths and corneal rasps. However, it makes more sense to put a stop to the formation of calluses on the splayfoot by wearing suitable footwear. Flat shoes with enough space for the toes are recommended for splayfoot.
In most cases, those affected with splayfoot only have a few and only very limited measures of direct aftercare available. Therefore, those affected by this disease should first and foremost consult a doctor at an early stage and initiate treatment in order to prevent the further occurrence of symptoms or complications. Self-healing is also not possible, so that treatment by a doctor is always necessary.
In general, a healthy lifestyle also has a very positive effect on the further course of this disease. Obesity should also be avoided as far as possible, and the person concerned should also do sports to counteract the symptoms. In many cases, the right footwear can also alleviate and limit the symptoms.
Therefore, special footwear should be made and worn. Regular check-ups and examinations by a doctor are also very important. As a rule, the symptoms can be limited well, so that the life expectancy of the person affected is not reduced. However, the feet should be checked particularly well by the doctor in order to identify any symptoms and damage in good time.
You can do that yourself
In everyday life, special attention must be paid to the choice of footwear. This should neither be too tight nor have high heels. The size of the shoes should match those of the feet. Before buying new shoes, they should always be tried on. In addition, it is advisable to check the materials used to manufacture the shoes.
Wearing plastic shoes has proven to be unfavorable. Very flat shoes with a thin sole can also lead to disturbances in everyday life and should also be avoided. As soon as the person concerned notices any discomfort while wearing the shoes, they should take them off and change to other shoes. Closed-toe shoes and cotton hosiery are important for optimal locomotion.
In order to reduce symptoms, it is also important to ensure that obesity is avoided. Eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and checking the number of calories you eat during the day will help you maintain a normal weight. Sweets and the consumption of sugary products should be checked daily. Sufficient exercise and the implementation of sporting activities are also important to avoid obesity. As soon as signs of fatigue appear or complaints appear, recovery phases must be inserted. The feet are to be rested and should be rested.