Flatfoot disorder has a range of symptoms and disabilities/deformities. There are different forms of Flatfoot, and all share the characteristic of partial/total collapse of the foot’s arch.
Overweight adults frequently develop flatfoot, and those with health problems such as Rheumatoid Arthritis or Diabetes have been known to have a higher risk of developing the disorder.
Additional characteristics of most forms of flatfoot
- Hammertoes and bunions
- Heel leans outwards while ankle turns in
- Abnormally short Achilles tendon, which can act as a deforming force, as the heel may lift earlier than normal when walking
- Front part of the foot and toes point outward (Toe Drift)
Information and Diagnosis of Flexible Flatfoot
One of the most familiar forms of this disorder is Flexible Flatfoot. Typically, it develops in childhood and continues throughout adulthood. Normally occurring in both right and left foot, this disorder may cause the arch’s ligaments and tendons to stretch/tear, causing inflammation. Often times, Arthritis may develop in patients with the disorder and eventually may cause the arch and foot stiffen.
“Flexible” refers to the arch that returns when weight is not being applied to the foot. Symptoms may include:
- Foot or leg weakness/fatigue
- Arch, ankle, heel, or outer foot pain
- Shin splint pain
- Rotated ankle
Diagnosing Flatfoot involves X-rays and a podiatric surgeon’s examination to observe how the foot looks when in a standing and sitting position.
Treatment Options for Flexible Flatfoot
If you are experiencing symptoms from Flexible Flatfoot disorder, the following treatment options may be recommended:
- Daily activity modifications: Decrease in activities that cause pain such as prolonged walking/standing to allow the foot’s arch to rest.
- Immobilization: Utilizing a cast or completely avoid apply weight to the foot.
- Medication: A prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to help reduce inflammation and pain.
- Orthotic devices: Devices for your shoes that offer added support to the foot’s arch.
- Physical therapy: Use of Ultrasound and additional modes of physical therapy to offer temporary relief from pain.
- Shoe recommendations: Podiatrist recommended shoes that are supportive to the arches.
- Weight loss: Can promote less aggravated symptoms.
Foot surgery is an option for those patients who are not entirely relieved of pain by alternative treatments. All surgical techniques aim to relieve symptoms and improve foot function. Procedures include implant device insertions, joint fusions, tendon lengthening transfers/procedures, and realignment of bones. More than one procedure may be required.
To select the procedure(s) for your case, your age and level of activity will be considered by your podiatric surgeon who will also take x-rays to analyze the degree of deformity. Recovery periods for patients will differ depending on the performed procedure(s).