Foot and Ankle Surgeon Discusses Flat Feet

Posted on: May 28, 2014

Feet That Go Flat

By Dr. Kurt Voellmicke,

A00173F02_foot_MedRezThere are aspects of getting older that are simply no fun. For example: In some people — mainly women over 40 — the feet will just give out. More specifically, they get adult-acquired flat foot, says. (Men get it too, by the way.)

People usually recognize something’s wrong when they start to experience pain on the inner side of the ankle. This is inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon, which supports the arch. As the tendon weakens, it can tear and the arch can actually collapse.

Women who have flat feet or low arches to begin with, and are carrying some extra weight, are at highest risk. If you experience pain in your ankle or arch, you should seek treatment. Whether you’ve had the pain for awhile or it has just started, there are strategies that can help.

First, you need to rest and immobilize the foot. Icing the area and taking anti-inflammatory drugs will help ease the pain. Once the inflammation decreases, patients can use a walking boot to get around; eventually, they can be fitted with a custom orthotic shoe insert to take stress off the tendon.

Many patients will recover using these measures; some patients will need surgery. If pain persists through initial treatment, a surgeon can go into the ankle and transfer a neighboring tendon to handle the load of the damaged or weakened one. In some cases, a surgeon can manipulate the bones in the foot to recreate the arch and help alleviate stress on the tendon.

Whether you need surgery or not, you should know that you’re not suffering alone: This is a very common foot problem. It’s one of these things that falls into the bad luck category. Either due to genetics or anatomic structure, some people are predisposed to get it. Just make sure you address flat feet as soon as you feel symptoms. Don’t let it smolder too long. Walking on a painful ankle for months and months is a bad idea.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Kurt Voellmicke, FAAOS, Director, Foot and Ankle Section, Orthopedic and Spine Institute, Northern Westchester Hospital

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