For many adults, years of wear and tear on the feet can lead to a gradual and potentially debilitating collapse of the arch. However, a new treatment approach based on early surgical intervention is
achieving a high rate of longterm success. Based on results of clinical studies of adults with flat feet
, we now believe that reconstructive surgery in the early stages of the condition can
prevent complications later on. Left untreated, the arch eventually will collapse, causing debilitating arthritis in the foot and ankle. At this end stage, surgical fusions are often required to
stabilize the foot.
As discussed above, many different problems can create a painful flatfoot. Damage to the posterior tibial tendon is the most common cause of AAFD. The posterior tibial tendon is one of the most
important tendons of the leg. It starts at a muscle in the calf, travels down the inside of the lower leg and attaches to the bones on the inside of the foot. The main function of this tendon is to
support the arch of your foot when you walk. If the tendon becomes inflamed or torn, the arch will slowly collapse. Women and people over 40 are more likely to develop problems with the posterior
tibial tendon. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Having flat feet since childhood increases the risk of developing a tear in the posterior tibial tendon. In addition,
people who are involved in high impact sports, such as basketball, tennis, or soccer, may have tears of the tendon from repetitive use. Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause
a painful flatfoot. This type of arthritis attacks not only the cartilage in the joints, but also the ligaments that support the foot. Inflammatory arthritis not only causes pain, but also causes the
foot to change shape and become flat. The arthritis can affect the back of the foot or the middle of foot, both of which can result in a fallen arch. An injury to the tendons or ligaments in the foot
can cause the joints to fall out of alignment. The ligaments support the bones and prevent them from moving. If the ligaments are torn, the foot will become flat and painful. This more commonly
occurs in the middle of the foot (Lisfranc injury), but can also occur in the back of the foot. Injuries to tendons of the foot can occur either in one instance (traumatically) or with repeated use
over time (overuse injury). Regardless of the cause, if tendon function is altered, the forces that are transmitted across joints in the foot are changed and this can lead to increased stress on
joint cartilage and ligaments. In addition to tendon and ligament injuries, fractures and dislocations of the bones in the midfoot can also lead to a flatfoot deformity. People with diabetes or with
nerve problems that limits normal feeling in the feet, can have collapse of the arch or of the entire foot. This type of arch collapse is typically more severe than that seen in patients with normal
feeling in their feet. In addition to the ligaments not holding the bones in place, the bones themselves can sometimes fracture and disintegrate without the patient feeling any pain. This may result
in a severely deformed foot that is very challenging to correct with surgery. Special shoes or braces are the best method for dealing with this problem.
Pain and swelling behind the inside of your ankle and along your instep. You may be tender behind the inner ankle where the posterior tibial tendon courses and occasionally get burning, shooting,
tingling or stabbing pain as a result of inflammation of the nerve inside the tarsal tunnel. Difficulty walking, the inability to walk long distances and a generalised ache while walking even short
distances. This may probably become more pronounced at the end of each day. Change in foot shape, sometimes your tendon stretches out, this is due to weakening of the tendon and ligaments. When this
occurs, the arch in your foot flattens and a flatfoot deformity occurs, presenting a change in foot shape. Inability to tip-toe, a way of diagnosing Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction is difficulty
or inability to ?heel rise? (stand on your toes on one foot). Your tibialis posterior tendon enables you to perform this manoeuvre effectively. You may also experience pain upon attempting to perform
a heel rise.
It is of great importance to have a full evaluation, by a foot and ankle specialist with expertise in addressing complex flatfoot deformities. No two flat feet are alike; therefore, "Universal"
treatment plans do not exist for the Adult Flatfoot. It is important to have a custom treatment plan that is tailored to your specific foot. That starts by first understanding all the intricacies of
your foot, through an extensive evaluation. X-rays of the foot and ankle are standard, and MRI may be used to better assess the quality of the PT Tendon.
Non surgical Treatment
Nonoperative treatment of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction can be successful with the Arizona AFO brace, particularly when treatment is initiated in the early stages of the disease. This mandates
that the orthopedist has a high index of suspicion when evaluating patients to make an accurate diagnosis. Although there is a role for surgical management of acquired flat feet, a well-fitted,
custom-molded leather and polypropylene orthosis can be effective at relieving symptoms and either obviating or delaying any surgical intervention. In today's climate of patient satisfaction directed
health care, a less invasive treatment modality that relieves pain may prove to be more valuable than similar pain relief that is obtained after surgery. Questions regarding the long-term results of
bracing remain unanswered. Future studies are needed to determine if disease progression and arthrosis occur despite symptomatic relief with a brace. Furthermore, age- and disease stage-matched
control groups who are randomized to undergo surgery or bracing are necessary to compare these different treatment modalities.
For patients with a more severe deformity, or significant symptoms that do not respond to conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary. There are several procedures available depending on the
nature of your condition. Ligament and muscle lengthening, removal of inflamed tendon lining, transferring of a nearby tendon to re-establish an arch, and bone realignment and fusion are examples of
surgical options to help with a painful flatfoot condition. Surgery can be avoided when symptoms are addressed early. If you are feeling ankle pain or notice any warmth, redness or swelling in your
foot, contact us immediately. We can create a tailored treatment plan to resolve your symptoms and prevent future problems.