Flat Feet: Causes and Treatment
Flat feet or posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) occurs when a person has little to no foot arch, causing their feet to lay flat on the ground. This arises when changes in the tendon impair its ability to support the arch of the foot, resulting in the flattening of the foot. There are several different reasons as to why this may happen.
Although flat foot is not a serious condition, it may produce pain in the arch of the foot or ankle over time as it progresses. Therefore, it’s important to promptly seek treatment in the condition’s early stages.
Dr. Jeffrey McAlister, FACFAS, is a fellowship-trained foot and ankle surgeon who is experienced in the conservative and surgical treatment of flat feet. Below, he explains what causes flat feet and shares when he suggests his patients consider surgical treatment.
What Causes Flat Feet?
There are several different causes of flat feet. One of the most frequent causes is that it’s inherited or genetically passed down from a parent to a child, making them more prone to issues related to flat feet.
Another cause could be a condition called, “flexible flatfoot.” People who have flexible flatfoot have visible arches when they sit down, but not while standing. This is most prominent in children and is often a developmental fault, which may or may not be outgrown.
The arches of the foot may fall on their own over time due to the wear and tear of the posterior tibial tendon. This is the tendon that runs along the inside of the foot from the top part of the foot to the ankle and provides support to the arch. This type of flat foot is often referred to as “adult flatfoot” because it is most commonly seen in adults. It’s often experienced in one foot but may occur in both.
When Is It Time to Consider Surgery?
Surgical treatment is often considered if a patient is still experiencing pain after conservative treatment options, such as orthotics, stretching exercises, and physical therapy have failed. Surgical reconstruction for flat foot is performed when the arch of the foot has collapsed but is still flexible.
An MRI or advanced resonance image is often acquired as a first step to determine the extent of the damage to the posterior tibial tendon. Based on these findings, a surgeon will determine if surgery is needed to improve the alignment and function of the foot. In many cases, a combination of procedures may be required to repair the ligaments, tendons and bones that provide support to the arch.
If you have flat feet and are experiencing pain, contact Dr. McAlister’s office to schedule an appointment today by calling (602) 955-5700. He’ll work with you to create a treatment plan best for you.