There's an easy way to tell if you have flat feet
. Simply wet your feet, then stand on a flat,
dry surface that will leave an imprint of your foot. A normal footprint has a wide band connecting the ball of the foot to the heel, with an indentation on the inner side of the foot. A foot with a
high arch has a large indentation and a very narrow connecting band. Flat feet leave a nearly complete imprint, with almost no inward curve where the arch should be. Most people have "flexible
flatfoot" as children; an arch is visible when the child rises up on the toes, but not when the child is standing. As you age, the tendons that attach to the bones of the foot grow stronger and
tighten, forming the arch. But if injury or illness damages the tendons, the arch can "fall," creating a flatfoot
. In many adults,
a low arch or a flatfoot is painless and causes no problems. However, a painful flatfoot can be a sign of a congenital abnormality or an injury to the muscles and tendons of the foot. Flat feet can
even contribute to low back pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis This type of arthritis attacks the cartilage in the foot, leading to pain and flat feet. It is caused by auto-immune disease, where the body?s immune system attacks its own
tissues. Diabetes. Having diabetes can cause nerve damage and affect the feeling in your feet and cause arch collapse. Bones can also fracture but some patients may not feel any pain due to the nerve
damage. Obesity and/or hypertension (high blood pressure) This increases your risk of tendon damage and resulting flat foot.
Patients will usually describe their initial symptoms as "ankle pain", as the PT Tendon becomes painful around the inside of the ankle joint. The pain will become more intense as the foot flattens
out, due to the continued stretching and tearing of the PT Tendon. As the arches continue to fall, and pronation increases, the heel bone (Calcaneus) tilts into a position where it pinches against
the ankle bone (Fibula), causing pain on both the inside and outside of the ankle. As the foot spends increased time in a flattened, or deformed position, Arthritis can begin to affect the joints of
the foot, causing additional pain.
Examination by your foot and ankle specialist can confirm the diagnosis for most patients. An ultrasound exam performed in the office setting can evaluate the status of the posterior tibial tendon,
the tendon which is primarily responsible for supporting the arch structure of the foot.
Non surgical Treatment
It is imperative that you seek treatment should you notice any symptoms of a falling arch or PTTD. Due to the progressive nature of this condition, your foot will have a much higher chance of staying
strong and healthy with early treatment. When pain first appears, your doctor will evaluate your foot to confirm a flatfoot diagnosis and begin an appropriate treatment plan. This may involve rest,
anti-inflammatory medications, shoe modifications, physical therapy, orthotics and a possible boot or brace. When treatment can be applied at the beginning, symptoms can most often be resolved
without the need for surgery.
In cases of PTTD that have progressed substantially or have failed to improve with non-surgical treatment, surgery may be required. For some advanced cases, surgery may be the only option. Your foot
and ankle surgeon will determine the best approach for you.