What does Flatfoot mean?
Flatfoot, also known as fallen arches or pesplanus, is a condition that can develop at any point during a person’s life where the tendon that supports the arch of the foot and runs along the sole – that normally develops between the age of 3 and 5 – is not developed or collapses. It causes most or all of the sole of the foot to come into contact with the ground while in a standing position.
Flatfoot deformity is usually painless although standing, walking, or running for prolonged periods of time can be painful. Having flat feet can also cause improper foot function, leading to ankle, leg, knee, and even back pain.
Causes of Flat Feet
The most common causes of flatfoot include genetics, underdevelopment of the foot arch during childhood, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Other risk factors and possible causes of flatfoot include obesity, sex, age, and activity level. For example, women, people over 40 years old, and athletes can be susceptible to developing flat feet.
Depending on the severity of the condition, flatfoot can be treated with special shoe modifications, custom orthotics, physical therapy, and steroid injections. However, when the pain becomes severe, flatfoot correction surgery may be required.
Most flatfoot correction procedures involve cleaning and repairing damaged tendons. In some occasions, joint fusion may be required. The earlier flatfoot is treated, the higher the success rate of repairing the damage to the tendon. Surgical flatfoot correction may include any of the following procedures:
- Fusion of the bones in the foot and ankle
- Osteotomy (cutting and reshaping a bone to improve alignment)
- Repair of the tibial tendon
- Synovectomy (cleaning the tendon sheath)
- Tendon transfer