Often considered solely a product of genetics, flatfoot rarely carries with it the stigma of presenting over time. The truth, however, is that flatfoot
does not discriminate on the basis of age and can become an
issue in the form of adult-acquired flatfoot. Like its congenital cousin, adult-acquired flatfoot deformity is one that, in causing structural damage to the foot (and particularly to the posterior
tibial tendon), creates an imbalance that may result in any number of symptoms, including inflammation, pain, stiffness, limited mobility, and even arthritis.
Damage to the posterior tendon from overuse is the most common cause for adult acquired flatfoot. Running, walking, hiking, and climbing stairs are activities that add stress to this tendon, and this
overuse can lead to damage. Obesity, previous ankle surgery or trauma, diabetes (Charcot foot), and rheumatoid arthritis are other common risk factors.
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.
It is of great importance to have a full evaluation, by a foot and ankle specialist with expertise in addressing complex flatfoot deformities. No two flat feet are alike; therefore, "Universal"
treatment plans do not exist for the Adult Flatfoot. It is important to have a custom treatment plan that is tailored to your specific foot. That starts by first understanding all the intricacies of
your foot, through an extensive evaluation. X-rays of the foot and ankle are standard, and MRI may be used to better assess the quality of the PT Tendon.
Non surgical Treatment
Although AAF is not reversible without surgery, appropriate treatment should address the patient?s current symptoms, attempt to reduce pain, and allow continued ambulation. In the early stages,
orthotic and pedorthic solutions can address the loss of integrity of the foot?s support structures, potentially inhibiting further destruction.3-5 As a general principle, orthotic devices should
only block or limit painful or destructive motion without reducing or restricting normal motion or muscle function. Consequently, the treatment must match the stage of the deformity.
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. Surgical
treatment may include repairing the tendon, tendon transfers, realigning the bones of the foot, joint fusions, or both. Dr. Piccarelli will determine the best approach for your specific case. A
variety of surgical techniques is available to correct flexible flatfoot. Your case may require one procedure or a combination of procedures. All of these surgical techniques are aimed at relieving
the symptoms and improving foot function. Among these procedures are tendon transfers or tendon lengthening procedures, realignment of one or more bones, or insertion of implant devices. Whether you
have flexible flatfoot or PTTD, to select the procedure or combination of procedures for your particular case, Dr. Piccarelli will take into consideration the extent of your deformity based on the
x-ray findings, your age, your activity level, and other factors. The length of the recovery period will vary, depending on the procedure or procedures performed.