Adult-acquired flatfoot is a challenging condition to treat. It is defined as a symptomatic, progressive deformity of the foot caused by loss of supportive structures of the medial arch. It is becoming increasingly frequent with the aging population and the obesity epidemic. Patients commonly try to lose weight by exercising to improve the condition. This often leads to worsening of symptoms and progression of the disorder. Early recognition of this complex disorder is essential, if chronic pain and surgery are to be avoided.
The posterior tibial tendon, which connects the bones inside the foot to the calf, is responsible for supporting the foot during movement and holding up the arch. Gradual stretching and tearing of the posterior tibial tendon can cause failure of the ligaments in the arch. Without support, the bones in the feet fall out of normal position, rolling the foot inward. The foot's arch will collapse completely over time, resulting in adult acquired flatfoot. The ligaments and tendons holding up the arch can lose elasticity and strength as a result of aging. Obesity, diabetes, and hypertension can increase the risk of developing this condition. Adult acquired flatfoot is seen more often in women than in men and in those 40 or older.
Often, this condition is only present in one foot, but it can affect both. Adult acquired flatfoot symptoms vary, but can swelling of the foot's inner side and aching heel and arch pain. Some patients experience no pain, but others may experience severe pain. Symptoms may increase during long periods of standing, resulting in fatigue. Symptoms may change over time as the condition worsens. The pain may move to the foot's outer side, and some patients may develop arthritis in the ankle and foot.
The diagnosis of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction and AAFD is usually made from a combination of symptoms, physical exam and x-ray imaging. The location of pain, shape of the foot, flexibility of the hindfoot joints and gait all may help your physician make the diagnosis and also assess how advanced the problem is.
Non surgical Treatment
Treating PTTD is almost always easier the earlier you catch it. So, the first step in treatment is to see your doctor as soon as you begin experiencing painful symptoms. However, once your condition has been diagnosed, your podiatrist will likely try to give the upset tendon a bit of a break so it?ll calm down and stop being so painful. This can often be accomplished by immobilizing the foot using tape and padding, braces, or casts, depending on what your podiatrist believes will work best for you, and depending on the severity of your condition. You may also be instructed to reduce inflammation by applying ice to the area (usually 40 minutes on and 20 minutes off, with a thin towel between you and the ice). Or, you might take anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen (steroidal anti-inflammatory meds are actually likely to make this problem worse, and are not usually recommended in treating PTTD), or use ultrasound therapy. Once the inflammation has gone down a bit, your podiatrist may recommend using orthotics (prescription shoe inserts) to support your damaged arch. Ankle braces can also be helpful.
When conservative care fails to control symptoms and/or deformity, then surgery may be needed. The goal of surgical treatment is to obtain good alignment while keeping the foot and ankle as flexible as possible. The most common procedures used with this condition include arthrodesis (fusion), osteotomy (cutting out a wedge-shaped piece of bone), and lateral column lengthening. Lateral column lengthening involves the use of a bone graft at the calcaneocuboid joint. This procedure helps restore the medial longitudinal arch (arch along the inside of the foot). A torn tendon or spring ligament will be repaired or reconstructed. Other surgical options include tendon shortening or lengthening. Or the surgeon may move one or more tendons. This procedure is called a tendon transfer. Tendon transfer uses another tendon to help the posterior tibial tendon function more effectively. A tendon transfer is designed to change the force and angle of pull on the bones of the arch. It's not clear yet from research evidence which surgical procedure works best for this condition. A combination of surgical treatments may be needed. It may depend on your age, type and severity of deformity and symptoms, and your desired level of daily activity.
The arch of the foot is a collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that are constructed to allow your foot to bear the weight of your body safely. These tissues and bones of your arch are in constant motion as you walk and run, absorbing impacts that might otherwise injure you. The arch of your foot has its limits, however, and arch pain can be a sign that you?ve passed those limits and injured yourself. Pay close attention to any pain you are feeling in your foot. What may seem at first to be simple soreness from being on your feet all day could be a sign of a more serious stress injury or repeated motion injury. Arch pain could also be a result of a fall or impact injury, so be sure to seek proper treatment.
Plantar fasciitis, another sports injury detailed on this website, is regularly the cause of foot arch pain or strain. This can arise due to faulty biomechanics in your feet, which alone can also provoke foot arch pains. The most prominent biomechanical difficulties are flat feet and high arches. With flat feet (or overpronation) the arches appear to be almost flattened, causing unevenness by forcing the feet roll inwards in order to maintain balance and support the body's weight. This places inordinate pressure on the plantar fascia and arches. If by contrast you have high arches (instep), the ankle can roll outwards, again causing undue strain on the arches. Too much of this strain can lead to stretching of the plantar fascia and pain in the arches. Other causes include overstretching or otherwise pressuring the arches, for example by exercising with fatigued leg muscles which leave the feet with excessive work to do. You are also particularly at risk if in your 40s or 50s and commencing an intense program of training after a long period of inactivity.
The primary symptom is pain or aching in the arch area. This can be accompanied by inflammation and tenderness. If the pain is caused by the plantar fascia, it is likely to be considerably more severe in the mornings due to the muscles being unused.
The doctor will take a brief history to determine how the injury occurred. If necessary, a thorough physical exam may be conducted to evaluate for any other injuries. Taking your workout shoes to the exam may also provide valuable information to the medical practitioner. Both feet will be physically and visually examined by the medical practitioner. The foot and arch will be touched and manipulated possibly with a lot of pressure and inspected to identify obvious deformities, tender spots, or any differences in the bones of the foot and arch.
Non Surgical Treatment
One of the most successful, and practical treatments recommended by podiatrists are orthotic devices, sometimes referred to as arch supports. Orthotics take various forms and are constructed of various materials, usually best recommended by your doctor to address the severity of your problem. All orthotic devices serve to improve foot function and minimize stress forces that could ultimately arch pain.
In rare cases, surgery may be needed if a child has flat feet caused by a problem they're born with (a congenital abnormality). The foot may need to be straightened or the bones may need to be separated if they're fused together. Painkillers and insoles are the first treatment options for flat feet that are caused by a joint problem, such as arthritis or a torn tendon. However, surgery may be recommended if the injury or condition is severely affecting your feet. Where flat feet are caused by a condition that affects the nervous system, special shoes, insoles, or supportive foot or leg braces may be needed. Again, in severe cases, an operation may be needed to straighten the feet.
Plantar Fasciitis stretches should always be gentle and pain free, if discomfort occurs with or after stretching decrease the intensity and duration of stretches. Stretches can usually be gradually progressed in intensity and duration over time according to individual tolerance. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 1. Stretch for the right calf muscle (gastrocnemius) and the arch of the right foot (plantar fascia and muscles under the arches). Take your right heel close to the wall and ball of the foot upright against the wall. Move your hips forwards to the wall. Try to keep your right leg straight. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 2. Stretch for the outside belly of the right calf muscle and the arch of the right foot. Take your right heel close to the wall. Turn the ball of your right foot outwards to 2 o?clock position upright against the wall. Move your hips forwards to the wall. Turn your trunk in the opposite direction (i.e. to the left). Try to keep your right leg straight. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 3. Stretch for the inside belly of the right calf muscle and the arch of the right foot. Take your right heel close to the wall. Turn the ball of your right foot inwards to 10 o?clock position upright against the wall. Move your hips forwards to the wall. Turn your trunk in the opposite direction (i.e. to the right). Try to keep your right leg straight. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times. Plantar Fasciitis Stretch 4. Stretch for the right achilles tendon and the arch of the right foot. Take your right heel close to the wall and ball of the foot upright against the wall (as for stretch 1). Move your hips forwards to the wall. Bend your right knee forwards into the wall keeping the ball of your foot upright against the wall. Push down through your right heel to increase the stretch. Maintain for 30 seconds, repeat 2-3 times.