Flat feet is a condition that while common, is often complex, because it has varying degrees of severity. Flat feet cases can feature a wide array of symptoms and the patient’s level of deformity and disability can also differ greatly.
Common Characteristics of Flat Feet Cases
While there are varying types of flat feet cases, they each share a number of similar characteristics that your doctor will use to help diagnose the condition. These common characteristics include:
- Partial or total loss of the arch
- A short Achilles tendon
- Toe drift
What is “Flexible” Flat Feet?
Flexible flat feet is a condition that usually begins in childhood or early adolescence and progresses as one enters adulthood. This is one of the most common types of flat feet and it is so named because the arch disappears when the foot is flat against the ground but returns once the foot is raised. Common symptoms of flexible flat feet include:
- Pain in the shin area
- Pain in the heel, arch, ankle, or along the outside edge of the foot
- Weakness in the foot or leg
- Arthritis (as the condition worsens)
- A “turned-in” ankle
How is Flat Feet Diagnosed?
Your doctor or surgeon will examine your feet by observing how they look when you are standing and when you are sitting. The doctor will be looking at three primary components – flattening of the arch, forefoot abduction, and heel valgus. X-rays may be ordered to help diagnose the severity of the condition.
Treatment Options for Flat Feet
There are several different conservative treatment techniques available for most sufferers of flat feet. At Pennsylvania Foot and Ankle Associates, we always provide our patients with a full education about their condition because the better the patient understands the condition, the more proactive they can be in their treatment program. The following non-surgical treatment options are available for flat feet:
- Stretching exercises
- Immobilization / casting
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
When is Surgery Needed?
If conservative treatment has not been successful and the patient is suffering from significant pain and foot misalignment, then surgical intervention may be required. Surgery to repair flat foot can include a number of different techniques and procedures, such as tendon lengthening or augmentation, osteotomies, bone fusions, and/or bone supporting implants. Your surgeon will discuss your surgical options and your recovery expectations prior to you making a decision about your treatment.