Flat Feet Surgery
Having flat feet is a normal condition. We are all born without arches, and our arches develop as we grow, but sometimes they never form at all. In some people, they never develop, and in others, the arches collapse in adulthood due to obesity, aging, or trauma. Everyone is different, and many times people are not affected at all by the absence of arches, but for others, it can be a very painful condition that interferes with their daily lives and activities. If you have exhausted all other avenues of dealing with the pain caused by flatfoot, it may be time for surgery.
Flat Feet in Children
Normal arches usually do not appear until children begin to stand on their toes. This is a normal process that almost everyone goes through. Until then children have what is known as flexible flatfoot. This means that when they are sitting their arch disappears, but when they stand and put pressure on the bottom of the foot the arch is formed. This typically continues until around the age of five, when the arches stay permanently. Sometimes they never fully form, and unless they cause pain it is just fine for them to stay that way.
Adult Acquired Flatfoot
In some people flat feet occur in adulthood. There are many different reasons for the arch to collapse later in life. They may include nerve problems, rheumatoid arthritis, broken bones, obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, torn or damaged tendons, or deformities and abnormalities that have been present since birth. It is possible to live your life with no arches and be pain free. However, sometimes they cause feet to become tired easily, swell, or become achy and tender. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, you may want to visit a podiatrist to seek treatment.
Treatment for Flat Feet
After your doctor has positively diagnosed that flatfoot is the cause of your pain, it is time for treatment to begin. Your options may range from conservative to more invasive. You will usually start out with resting and icing the feet. It is also typical to try some physical therapy and stretching exercises that might help with pain. Under a doctor’s recommendation you may want to try a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. An orthotic device or a shoe insert will help ease the pressure and offer support for the lack of an arch. A more invasive form of treatment is an injection to decrease inflammation. In very severe cases, surgery may be necessary. There are different kinds of surgeries for fallen arches, each with their own level of severity and risk factors.
When to Seek a Doctor’s Help
It does not matter if you are a child or an adult, if your flat feet are causing you pain we are here to help. If you are suffering from achy, sore feet that get tired easily and interfere with your every day life call Dr. Rahn Ravenell and Dr. Tamika Ravenell today or schedule an appointment online. Coastal Podiatry, LLC knows the importance of having healthy feet for living a strong and healthy life, and we are dedicated to helping you get there.
Before you get to the point where surgery becomes necessary, there are other means of treatment that you can try. You might see if wearing an arch support or a custom orthotic could help with alleviating some of the pressure on the bottom of the feet. Under a doctor’s supervision, you can also try physical therapy exercises, cortisone injections, and pain medication.
If all of these options fail, it could be time to resort to more invasive treatment methods. Prior to your surgery you should prepare by completing all pre-operative tests, working out your upper body to get ready for walking with crutches, and reviewing the instructions for the day before your surgery.
Cause and Effect: Surgical Interventions for the Source of Your Flatfoot
The cause of your flat foot will impact the type of surgical intervention used. The following are common reasons that people seek treatment:
Tendon damage occurs when the tendon connecting the calf and the inner foot is inflamed. Surgery may involve lengthening the Achilles tendon or cutting and shifting the bones.
Arthritis complications take place when the ligaments in the foot become damaged due to arthritis. Surgery may involve fusing the joints in the back of the foot.
Injury or trauma happens when the ligaments become damaged and can no longer support the arch. Surgery may involve realigning the bones or using an implant to hold up the arch.
Diabetic complications or Charcot foot occurs when the person suffering from flatfoot is not able to feel the pain and further complications arise. Surgery may involve removal of the bony prominence or fusing the joints together.
There will be substantial downtime after the surgery is complete. You should also expect to feel numbness and tingling in the foot immediately after, which should subside after the first day or two. As with any surgery, it is important to follow all post-operative instructions on how to care for the area. It usually takes about three to six months to recover. You may have to use crutches or a walker for a while. At first you will be in a cast, but then you will switch over to a boot that can be removed.
Depending on the situation, physical therapy may be required. Your muscles will weaken while in the cast so exercising, stretching, and maybe even wearing a custom-made orthotic will help get them back to full strength.
Arch Types: Which One Are You?
You’ve heard of a lie detector test to tell if someone’s speaking the truth, but have you heard of a wet test? It’s an exam to test the arch type of your feet, and there’s no denying the results.The Wet Test
When looking to identifying your foot type from home there is a very simple test that can be performed. Many parents often use the “wet test” to identify arch types in their children and measure the changes in their feet over time. In order to identify your foot’s arch type follow these simple directions:
- Pour a layer of water into a thin pan. (Make sure your foot can fit in it)
- Wet the bottom of your foot.
- Step directly onto a paper bag or piece of paper.
- Observe the shape left by your foot.
If you can see half of your foot shape as defined by the “water mark,” then you have normal arches. Seeing less than half indicates high arches and more than half means that you have flat feet or flat arches. Knowing your foot’s arch type can help you greatly in determining proper footwear and support for your feet.Archetypes of Arch Types
Not all feet disperse weight equally. Podiatrists tend to describe arches as falling into one of three distinct groups: normal, flat, or high. Now that you’ve done the wet test and found your arch type, you can see what that means. While many of the causes of your arch type are genetic and develop naturally, some high or flat arches can form over time or through injury.Normal Arches
Normal arches where half of your arch touches the ground with each step means that your feet pronate normally and absorb shock well. As this is the most common type—60 percent of people have these—most shoes will suit your feet with no problems. You should find shoes that offer a moderate amount of support and cushioning to be comfortable in daily life, as well as for exercise. However, take note that just because you have normal arches, doesn’t mean you will never experience common foot conditions.Flat Arches
If your entire footprint was visible after the wet test, then you have flat feet. People with flat feet tend to overpronate. This means that immediately following the collapse of your arch during a step, your foot moves inward more than the average person’s does. If this range of motion is excessive, it can pave the way for many foot injuries. Shoes and orthotic inserts that increase stability and control motion can help minimize common flatfoot problems such as heel or arch pain, and plantar fasciitis.High Arches
If you see much less than half of your foot after performing the wet test, then welcome to the high arches club—20 percent of people have this arch type. High arches underpronate and therefore don’t absorb shock to the feet efficiently. Avoid shoes with excessive support or motion control as they can exemplify the already prevalent issues in your feet. There are special orthotics that are designed to help disperse the shock, but expect to experience some heel or ball of the foot pain.