Having Flat Feet or a flatfoot is often a complex disorder, with diverse symptoms and varying degrees of deformity and disability. There are several types of flat feet, all of which have one characteristic in common—partial or total collapse (loss) of the arch. Other characteristics shared by most types of flatfoot include:
- “Toe drift,” where the toes and front part of the foot point outward
- The heel tilts toward the outside and the ankle appears to turn in.
- Ankle Pain and Foot Pain
- A short or tight Achilles tendon.
- Bunions and hammertoes may occur in some people with flat feet.
- Adults who are overweight frequently have flatfoot.
Flat Feet: Flexible & Pediatric Flat Feet
Flexible flatfoot is one of the most common types of flatfoot. It typically begins in childhood or adolescence and continues into adulthood. It usually occurs in both feet and generally progresses in severity throughout the adult years. As the deformity worsens, the soft tissues (tendons and ligaments) of the arch may stretch or tear and can become inflamed. The term “flexible” means that while the foot is flat when standing (weight-bearing),the arch returns when not standing. In the early stages of flexible flatfoot arthritis is not restricting motion of the arch and foot, but in the later stages arthritis may develop to such a point that the arch and foot become stiff. Symptoms, which may occur in some persons with flexible flatfoot, include:
- Pain in the heel, arch, ankle, or along the outside of the foot
- “ Turned-in” ankle
- Pain associated with a shin splint
- General weakness/fatigue in the foot or leg
Flat Feet: Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) is an inflammation and/or overstretching or tearing of the posterior tibial tendon in the foot. The posterior tibial tendon is a fibrous cord that extends from a muscle in the leg. It descends the leg and runs along the inside of the ankle, down the side of the foot, and into the arch. This tendon serves as one of the major supporting structures of the foot that supports the arch and helps the foot to function while walking. PTTD is often called “adult acquired flatfoot” because it is the most common type of flatfoot developed during adulthood. Although this condition typically occurs in only one foot, some people may develop it in both feet. PTTD is usually progressive, which means it will keep getting worse — especially if it isn’t treated early.
Supportive Braces and Custom Orthotics can offer significant pain reduction and stabilization of the foot and ankle. If various supports no longer help, surgery performed by either Dr. Menke at St. Mary’s Good Samaritan Hospital in Greensboro, GA is an option.