We can compare adult flat foot correction to pediatric flat foot correction. However, we have more options available to correct the flat foot because we’re not as concerned about the future growth of the foot.
We actually can apply fusions to the joints because the joints and the bones have finished their development. And with any surgery we don’t want to impede the normal progression or development of the foot, so with an adult we’ve already gotten past the point of complete development so we can apply these things that would adjust the joint and the lengths of the bones in the foot.
We can do fusions with tendon transfers. We can also apply the implants for limited flexible deformities and we can apply those implants into the joints the same as we do with pediatrics.
If we have to fuse the joint because of the severity of deformities of the foot and the rigidity, meaning that the foot isn’t flexible in its flat position, then we oftentimes have to fuse and reposition certain joints to put the foot in a more corrected position and hold it there it its new position which should assist with better ambulation for the patient.
How common is flat foot in adults?
Flat foot in adults is not the most common thing we see. It does occur but in less than 50% of the adults we see. It’s not as frequent as bunions and hammertoes.
What causes flat feet in adults?
Flat foot is something that is a combination of the structural development of the foot primarily. And the arch height at which the person develops so that’s genetics which is the number one cause of flat foot.
You can get flat foot from a catastrophic injury or accident that crushes or breaks the arch therefore when it heals it heals in a flat position. However, most of the problems with flatfoot are because it’s a structural thing that is hereditary.
A person’s arch height depends on the way it develops which is why we usually don’t manipulate or do fusions of any joints or extreme reconstruction of the child’s food until they’re finished growing.
The cause of adult flat foot is due to the development of the skeletal structure. It’s the natural development of that particular person’s foot type people get flat foot because they are predisposed to it genetically and their foot grows and develops into a position where it is flat. So it’s more a structural and than functional.
The functional component is usually what causes the pain. Their level of activity and the way their body functions around that foot… The cause of it is the shape that the person’s foot is designed to develop in genetically, unless they have a catastrophic injury or significant accident that causes traumatic injury to that particular foot.
Can flat foot be treated?
Yes, flat foot can be treated by bracing or we can apply surgical techniques to manipulate and reposition the foot.
Is it bad to have a flat foot?
It’s not bad to have flat foot because it’s how a person develops. It may require more control through assistive devices starting with some type shoe insert or really just starting with the types of shoes that you can and should wear.
Some people have comfort may never have a need for surgery for flat foot because they wear supportive shoes and they don’t have any pain and/or they use some type of arch support to control the function of the flat foot so that the tendons and the muscles and tendons don’t become painful and the deformity doesn’t cause worsening symptoms as they get older or as they continue to work in adult life.
So I would not say that it’s bad to have flat foot but it has to be controlled and monitored or it may cause significant and painful things to happen.
Is Flat Foot a deformity?
Yes, flat foot is a deformity. The term implies the deformity that is involved – it’s a foot with a lower arch.
There’s a normal arch range and there’s a high arch range which is called a cavus foot – that is structural and that won’t change. Those people have to control their functions in other ways to reduce pressures in the feet.
Then you have a lower arch height which is where the category of flat foot falls – so people with a lower arch structurally are considered to have flat feet.
Do I need flat foot surgery?
As applied with any surgery that I do, if your feet are painful despite non-surgical treatment, shoe wear, or bracing – if it is painful despite doing those non-surgical treatment more than 50% of the time, meaning more than 3 days a week doing regular activities, whether you don’t work at all at home, whatever activities you do if it hurts more than 3 days a week at a level of more than 50% what you would consider your pain threshold, 50% of the highest pain that you can imagine in your foot, then you should consider surgical options.
How long does it take to recover from flat foot surgery?
How long it takes to recover from flat foot surgery depends on a number of things.
If we just do tendon manipulation and place an implant in your foot, you can walk right away.
When your incision heals in 2 weeks, we take you out of the boot and we want you to walk in your new position as soon as possible when you can tolerate it.
Within 4 weeks my patients are usually in sneakers and back to doing most of their low impact activities – 6 weeks they’re back to running and on elliptical machines and stationary bikes.
With most of the flat foot reconstruction, we have to alter and/or repair tendons, fuse joints, or manipulate bones meaning cutting the bone and shifting the bones into a better position.
And that can require 8-12 weeks of recovery because you have to be in a cast and/or boot immobilized for 6-8 weeks non-weight bearing and then you can start walking in a protected boot for another 4 weeks – at that point you’re at 10-12 weeks before you’re back into a regular shoe if everything goes well.
So you’re talking about 3 months before you’re walking in a comfortable supportive supported shoe and then possibly another month before you’re back to physical exercise and activities.