Becoming flatfooted can be a real health issue for people. The advice from healthcare experts is to pay attention to foot pain, and when it happens, to seek help right away. In the last 20 years, adult-acquired flatfoot has become a more commonly recognized health issue. The cause is a dysfunction of the ankle tendon that attaches to the bones on the inside of your foot. The function of this posterior tibial tendon (PTT) is to maintain the foot arch and provide strength during push-off when you walk. When the PTT is not functioning correctly, you tend to lose your arch, or become more flatfooted. This problem occurs about three times more often in women than in men, especially after the age of 40. Initially, PTT dysfunction is associated with pain on the inside of the ankle, swelling and sometimes a limp. If left unchecked, the arch appears to collapse and the pain on the inside of the ankle worsens. Eventually, if left unchecked, patients will begin to feel pain on the outside of the ankle, too.
Obesity – Overtime if your body is carrying those extra pounds, you can potentially injure your feet. The extra weight puts pressure on the ligaments that support your feet. Also being over weight can lead to type two diabetes which also can attribute to AAFD. Diabetes – Diabetes can also play a role in Adult Acquired Flatfoot Deformity. Diabetes can cause damage to ligaments, which support your feet and other bones in your body. In addition to damaged ligaments, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to ulcers on your feet. When the arches fall in the feet, the front of the foot is wider, and outer aspects of the foot can start to rub in your shoe wear. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes may not notice or have symptoms of pain due to nerve damage. Diabetic patient don?t see they have a problem, and other complications occur in the feet such as ulcers and wounds. Hypertension – High blood pressure cause arteries narrow overtime, which could decrease blood flow to ligaments. The blood flow to the ligaments is what keeps the foot arches healthy, and supportive. Arthritis – Arthritis can form in an old injury overtime this can lead to flatfeet as well. Arthritis is painful as well which contributes to the increased pain of AAFD. Injury – Injuries are a common reason as well for AAFD. Stress from impact sports. Ligament damage from injury can cause the bones of the foot to fallout of ailment. Overtime the ligaments will tear and result in complete flattening of feet.
Patients will usually describe their initial symptoms as “ankle pain”, as the PT Tendon becomes painful around the inside of the ankle joint. The pain will become more intense as the foot flattens out, due to the continued stretching and tearing of the PT Tendon. As the arches continue to fall, and pronation increases, the heel bone (Calcaneus) tilts into a position where it pinches against the ankle bone (Fibula), causing pain on both the inside and outside of the ankle. As the foot spends increased time in a flattened, or deformed position, Arthritis can begin to affect the joints of the foot, causing additional pain.
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
Although AAF is not reversible without surgery, appropriate treatment should address the patient?s current symptoms, attempt to reduce pain, and allow continued ambulation. In the early stages, orthotic and pedorthic solutions can address the loss of integrity of the foot?s support structures, potentially inhibiting further destruction.3-5 As a general principle, orthotic devices should only block or limit painful or destructive motion without reducing or restricting normal motion or muscle function. Consequently, the treatment must match the stage of the deformity.
Good to excellent results for more than 80% of patients have been reported at five years’ follow up for the surgical interventions recommended below. However, the postoperative recovery is a lengthy process, and most surgical procedures require patients to wear a plaster cast for two to three months. Although many patients report that their function is well improved by six months, in our experience a year is required to recover truly and gain full functional improvement after the surgery. Clearly, some patients are not candidates for such major reconstructive surgery.