Calcaneal Valgus: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Calcaneal Valgus: A Comprehensive Overview


Calcaneal valgus is a condition characterized by an outward deviation of the heel bone (calcaneus) from the midline of the foot. This abnormal foot position can lead to a variety of functional and structural problems, including pain, instability, and deformity. Understanding calcaneal valgus is essential for healthcare professionals in order to provide appropriate diagnosis, treatment, and management of this condition.

Anatomy and Biomechanics

The calcaneus, commonly known as the heel bone, plays a crucial role in foot function. It forms a stable base for the foot, provides leverage for propulsion during ambulation, and absorbs shock during weight-bearing activities. The calcaneus articulates with the talus bone above and the cuboid bone in front.

In a normal foot, the calcaneus aligns vertically with the lower leg, allowing for proper weight distribution and efficient movement. However, in calcaneal valgus, the calcaneus deviates laterally (outward), disrupting this alignment and leading to biomechanical abnormalities.

Causes of Calcaneal Valgus

Various factors can contribute to the development of calcaneal valgus:

  • Structural anomalies: Developmental abnormalities, such as talocalcaneal coalition (fusion of the talus and calcaneus) or congenital flatfoot, can cause the calcaneus to tilt laterally.
  • Neuromuscular imbalances: Weakness or tightness in the muscles that control foot alignment, such as the peroneus longus (lateral foot inverters) or tibialis posterior (medial foot inverters), can disrupt normal foot biomechanics and lead to calcaneal valgus.
  • Trauma: Injuries to the foot or ankle, such as fractures, sprains, or ligament tears, can disrupt normal joint alignment and result in calcaneal valgus.
  • Obesity: Excessive weight can put strain on the foot and alter normal biomechanics, contributing to the development of calcaneal valgus.

Clinical Manifestations

Individuals with calcaneal valgus may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain: Discomfort in the heel, arch, or ankle due to abnormal weight distribution and stress on the affected structures.
  • Instability: Feeling of weakness or unsteadiness in the foot, particularly during weight-bearing activities.
  • Deformity: Visible outward deviation of the heel, accompanied by a flatfoot or collapsed arch.
  • Gait abnormalities: Altered walking patterns, such as excessive pronation (inward rolling of the foot) or supination (outward rolling of the foot).
  • Skin problems: Excessive friction and pressure on the foot can lead to calluses, blisters, or plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia).


Proper diagnosis of calcaneal valgus involves a thorough evaluation of the foot and ankle, including:

  • Physical examination: Inspection of the foot, observation of gait patterns, and assessment of range of motion and stability.
  • Imaging studies: X-rays, CT scans, or MRI may be used to visualize bone and soft tissue structures and confirm the diagnosis.
  • Biomechanical analysis: Gait analysis or pressure plate measurements can help identify the underlying biomechanical abnormalities contributing to calcaneal valgus.

Treatment Options

Treatment for calcaneal valgus aims to correct the abnormal foot position, relieve symptoms, and prevent further complications:

  • Conservative measures:
    • Orthopedic inserts (orthoses): Custom-made shoe inserts can provide support and cushioning, correcting foot alignment and reducing pain.
    • Physical therapy: Exercises to strengthen the foot muscles, improve flexibility, and correct gait patterns can be beneficial.
    • Weight loss: Reducing weight can decrease stress on the foot and improve overall alignment.
  • Surgical intervention: In severe cases or when conservative measures fail, surgery may be necessary to realign the calcaneus and restore normal foot biomechanics:
    • Subtalar fusion: Fusion of the subtalar joint (between the talus and calcaneus) to stabilize the heel and correct the valgus deformity.
    • Lateral column lengthening: Surgically performing a bone cut in the midfoot (cuneiform bones) and inserting a wedge-shaped graft to lengthen the lateral column of the foot, correcting calcaneal valgus.
  • Other adjunctive therapies:
    • Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT): Pulses of acoustic energy are applied to the affected area, promoting tissue repair and pain relief.
    • Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections: Injections of PRP, derived from the patient’s own blood, may enhance healing and reduce pain.

Prognosis and Prevention

With proper treatment, most individuals with calcaneal valgus experience significant improvement in symptoms and function. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial to prevent further complications, such as chronic pain, deformity, or disability.

Preventive measures to reduce the risk of calcaneal valgus include:

  • Wearing supportive and well-fitting shoes with good arch support.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Engaging in regular exercise to strengthen foot and ankle muscles.
  • Seeking professional advice for foot and ankle injuries or abnormalities.


Calcaneal valgus is a common foot condition that can significantly impact foot function and quality of life. Understanding the causes, clinical manifestations, and treatment options is essential for healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care for individuals affected by this condition. Early diagnosis, appropriate intervention, and preventive measures play a crucial role in optimizing outcomes and preventing complications. Through collaboration between healthcare professionals and patients, calcaneal valgus can be effectively managed, allowing individuals to regain optimal foot health and function.

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