Splay foot is a deformity characterized by broad, flat feet that oftentimes turn outward like duck feet. The condition happens when the metatarsal bones begin spreading out like a fan, leading to a widening of the forefoot.
People who have splay foot generally experience load-dependent pain while walking and standing. The pain usually dissipates while resting or relieving weight from the foot.
READ MORE: How To Tell If You Have Splay Foot
As splay feet are extra wide, it can be difficult for people with affected feet to find comfortable shoes.
While an exact cause of splay foot is unknown, most medical specialists agree that it usually develops following several years of improper strain on the foot from obesity, ill-fitting shoes, high heeled shoes or prior conditions or injuries that affected a person’s natural gait. Over time, the transverse bulge of the foot begins to disappear and the forefoot broadens.
Splay foot is said to be the most common foot deformity, next to bunions (hallux valgus).
Conservative treatment of splay foot is most often prescribed, and it includes wearing orthopaedic inserts or orthoses, as well as engaging in exercises that strengthen the calves, ankles and foot muscles, which will help alleviate the pain and discomfort that often accompanies the condition.
People with splay foot are advised to avoid excessive strain on the forefoot and to frequently alternate any foot and leg exercises. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain killers can also be taken.
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