Having a foot and ankle deformity like a hammertoe, bunions, flat feet, or high arches, can negatively affect your mobility and make it difficult to play sports or stay physically active. Fortunately, various treatments can ease symptoms and make day-to-day activities more comfortable. Board certified foot and rear foot surgeon Michael Howell, DPM, works with people of all ages to diagnose and treat ankle and foot deformities. To schedule your appointment at the Coldwater, Michigan office call today.

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What is an ankle and foot deformity?

An ankle and foot deformity is a disorder that affects the structure or function of your feet and ankles. Some ankle and foot deformities are genetic; others occur due to accidents, injuries, or general wear-and-tear.

What are some common ankle and foot deformities?

Dr. Howell specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of several ankle and foot deformities, including:


Hammertoe is a foot deformity that occurs due to an imbalance of the ligaments and muscles responsible for holding your toes straight. Your foot structure, gait pattern and trauma can all contribute to this condition. Hammertoe is especially prevalent in the second, third, or fourth toes. Many people with hammertoes also experience corns and calluses.


A bunion is a large, bony bump that forms on the outer edge of your big toe. It occurs when the bones in your forefoot shift position over time, Over time, your big toe will turn outward and the bone behind that, the 1st metatarsal, will protrude, causing pain and inflammation over this bump.

Flat feet

If you have flat feet, you may not have a visible arch, and the bottoms of your feet, make direct contact with the ground if you stand barefoot. Many people with flat feet experience foot pain in their heel and arch area, as well as their ankle. Over time, flat feet can cause more chronic issues including wearing down of joints.

High arches

Unusually high arches typically occur due to a genetic predisposition, or can occur due to other health issues like cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, or history of stroke. If you have high arches, you’re more likely to experience other foot and ankle problems like plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, tendinitis, and foot and ankle instability.

How are foot and ankle deformities diagnosed?

To diagnose a foot and ankle deformity, Dr. Howell physically examines your feet and ankles, reviews your medical history, and asks about your symptoms. He also has you stand up and walk around the exam room to observe your gait and posture.

He will order an X-ray in his office and may order an MRI to look closer at the bones, joints, and soft tissues.

How are foot and ankle deformities treated?

Treatment of foot and ankle deformities depends on their severity and effects on your quality of life. If you have a mild deformity, you might benefit from appropriate shoes, custom orthotics, bracing, and physical therapy.

If your deformity prevents you from exercising or performing other routine tasks, surgical intervention may be necessary. There are several types of foot and ankle surgery from minor to complex. These are designed to repair tendons and ligaments, remove bunions, straighten hammer toes, and restore arches to a healthier condition by reconstructing the foot.

To explore your treatment options for a foot and ankle deformity, schedule an appointment with Michael Howell, DPM, at his office in Coldwater, MI. Call the office today.