Flatfeet are a common condition that we treat often at Foot & Ankle Specialists, PC. Although flatfeet in children are usually not painful and often something they will grow out of, it’s an entirely different story for adults. Adult acquired flatfoot is a progressive disorder that can be quite painful and, left untreated, will result in a significant permanent deformity of the foot.
Who Gets It and Why?
Adult acquired flatfoot usually develops in middle age to older people. That’s because it is primarily caused by the gradual stretching and deterioration of the tibialis posterior tendon—a tendon that starts at the back of the heel and provides major support to the arch of the foot. Other supporting ligaments and muscles may also start to stretch due to natural loss of strength that comes with age and in some cases the ligament can actually tear. As the condition progresses, there is less and less support available to hold the arch up and the foot becomes deformed. Although doctors and researchers don’t understand why, adult acquired flatfoot happens to women more than men and can happen to just one foot and not the other.
Diagnosis and Treatment
To confirm a diagnosis of adult acquired flatfoot, our podiatrists, Dr. Scott E. Hughes, Dr. Greg P. Vogt, Dr. Christine I. Tumele, and Dr. Matthew W.E. Lewin will want to watch you walk and also test the strength of your foot muscles. Foot doctors classify flatfoot in 3 stages:
Stage 1: There is inflammation and swelling around the inside of the ankle (posterior tibial tendon).
Stage 2: A deformity of the affected foot is visible. At this point the deformity is still flexible and correctable.
Stage 3: The deformity progresses to a rigid, non-movable condition which is very painful, particularly on the outside of the ankle.
Treatment for this condition will depend on the stage the patient is at when adult acquired flatfoot is diagnosed. Adult acquired flatfoot is most successfully treated in the early stages. The foot doctor will focus on relieving pain and inflammation and halting the progression of the deformity. This can be done with rest, custom orthotics, shoe modifications, physical therapy, and surgery. If you have flat feet, even if they are not painful, make an appointment for an evaluation by contacting either our Monroe or Lambertville office today.