Maffucci's Syndrome: Rare Foot Deformities

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Maffucci's syndrome can cause foot painImagine a tree with a large, knobbed growth on one side of the trunk. Unusual growing conditions cause portions of the tree to develop like this, instead of growing straight up. The lesion doesn’t necessarily harm the tree, but it does change its appearance. Some human conditions can cause similar changes in your feet. Maffucci’s syndrome is a disorder that creates significant deformities that may impact how you walk or wear shoes.

What Is This?

Maffucci’s syndrome is a rare bone and skin disorder that is generally present at birth. It causes multiple enchondromas, or benign bone tumors, to develop in the long bones of the feet. Excess cartilage grows out of a growth plate and creates hard bulges. Depending on the size and number of these nodules, you may develop severe deformities. These deformities can potentially shorten your limbs and make you more prone to fractures. Red or purple skin growths from abnormal blood vessels also develop around the body, particularly near the bony bumps.

No one is entirely sure what causes this disorder. No genetic component has been identified, and it doesn’t necessarily run in families, though it does seem to be present at birth. Usually the problems that result manifest around four or five years old. Some research suggests it may be a problem that develops with the early embryo from issues in the womb.

The Side Effects

The abnormal growths on your feet cause a variety of issues. The deformities may make it challenging to wear normal shoes or walk around. Sometimes the bony nodules may impair your joints. They can weaken your tendons or ligaments and make it harder for your muscles to function. The disorder also increases your odds for cancer. The growths themselves are benign, but it is possible for them to change into malignant tumors later in life.

Manage the Condition

Maffucci’s syndrome has to be monitored regularly to check for malignant changes and to manage the side effects of the excess growths. Dr. Robert Parker and our staff will use X-rays and other diagnostic images to diagnose the condition and evaluate the bony nodules. We will also carefully look over your feet to check for skin lesions. If the bumps are benign and not causing any painful symptoms, we will simply continue to monitor your feet. Otherwise we will help you treat the discomfort.

Since the deformities can dramatically change the shape and function of your feet, you may need special shoes or custom orthotics to accommodate your lower limbs. These can help protect your feet from rubbing against your footwear, as well as cushion and support your bones. We will help set and repair fractures that result as well. Severe conditions may need surgery to deal with the deformities and assist your walking.

Maffucci’s syndrome is a rare problem that can increase your risk for bone cancer, impact your mobility, and limit your shoe choices. There are ways to accommodate the changes in your bones and help protect your skin, however. Let our staff at Parker Foot & Ankle help you manage your condition. Call our Houston office at (281) 497-2850 or use our website’s contact form to reach us for an appointment or more information.