A flat foot, also known as Pes Planus, is a complex condition in which the structure of the foot collapses against the ground. It is a common condition that is seen by Foot and Ankle specialists. There are a wide variety of causes, types and treatment plans that apply to both children and adults. Although some patients may not have any pain with their flat feet, many will find this condition problematic and it have a significant impact on their activity and quality of life.
You may notice that your child has flat feet. This may be normal, as their arches and foot structure are still developing. Sometimes, an arch never develops, or they acquire a flexible flat foot (collapse of the foot during weight bearing activity). A flexible flatfoot retains the mobility at the joints and is typically more responsive to conservative treatment. In less common circumstances, a child may have a genetic or medical condition that can cause this to happen.
Children less commonly have a rigid, or “stiff” flat feet. It is important to seek evaluation from a specialist to determine the etiology and proper treatment.
While children sometimes outgrow flat feet, adults that develop this condition typically do not. The most frequent causes of flat feet in adults include overuse, tendonitis/tendinosis, injury and trauma, obesity, arthritis, tarsal coalition, and equinus. You may notice that other problems in your foot have developed such as bunion, hammertoes, achilles pain, plantar fasciitis, and instability. As your condition advances, your tendons and ligaments may be further attenuated and strained. This, in turn, further exacerbates your condition and leads to worsening pain and deformity. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may involve pain, instability, difficulty with activity, leg, hip and back pain, problems with shoe wear, muscle cramps and fatigue. As previously discussed, it important to assess your condition and identify whether this is a flexible or rigid deformity.
To get an understanding of the severity of your condition, Xray’s are typically obtained.
This will help us get a better understanding of the architecture of your feet and look for abnormalities such as arthritis, trauma, and coalitions. Often times, advanced imaging studies are required such as MRI, CT, or Ultrasound. A thorough clinical evaluation is extremely important to assess the position of your foot, joints, stability, muscle strength and gait pattern. It is of the utmost importance to incorporate our 3 keys for successful treatment: early and accurate diagnosis, immediate intervention, and the proper treatment regimen.
Non-surgical treatment may involve something simple and effective such as orthotics and bracing, stretching and strengthening exercises, physical therapy, modified shoe gear, anti-inflammatories and injection therapy. If your condition is advanced and you are experiencing significant discomfort and pain, our specialists are here to help. We do have surgical options available to help reduce your discomfort and pain! Choosing an appropriate procedure to achieve a successful reconstruction is critical. These are complex deformities that require a skilled foot and ankle surgeon. A combination of procedures are typically utilized to correct your condition including soft tissue reconstruction (tendons and ligaments), osteotomies (bone cuts) and potentially joint arthrodesis (fusion).
Your surgeon will consider all of your medical history and clinical factors when recommending a procedure. Our priority is your health and helping to educate you on the pros and cons. Regardless of surgical or non-surgical intervention, our goal is to improve the function and alignment of your feet to help reduce your pain. We understand that this is a difficult decision, and we are here to help. Come see our specialists today for proper evaluation and treatment.
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