One of the most common problems affecting the foot and ankle is a condition known as adult acquired flatfoot. Treatment for this painful condition can range from nonsurgical methods — such as orthotics and braces — to surgery. There are a variety of foot problems which can lead to adult acquired flatfoot deformity, a condition that results in a fallen arch with the foot pointed outward. As symptoms become painful, most conditions can be helped with orthotics, braces and physical therapy. Patients who have tried treatments without seeing any significant relief, surgery can be a very effective way to help with the pain and deformity.

Depending on the source for the condition, pain is the common hallmark including pain on the inside of the foot and ankle, swelling, pain with activity increases with use, difficulty walking or standing. In severe cases when the foot collapses, the heel bone may shift position and put pressure on the outside ankle bone (fibula). This can cause pain on the outside of the ankle. Arthritis in the heel also causes this same type of pain.

What causes flatfoot in adults?

Damage to the posterior tibial tendon is the most common cause of AAFD. The posterior tibial tendon is one of the most important tendons of the leg. The main function of this tendon is to hold up the arch and support the foot when walking. If the tendon becomes inflamed or torn, the arch will slowly collapse.

Women and people over 40 are more likely to develop these types of problems. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. In addition, people who are involved in high impact sports, such as basketball, tennis, or soccer, may have tears of the tendon from repetitive use.

Inflammatory arthritis can also cause a painful flatfoot. This type of arthritis attacks not only the cartilage in the joints, but also the ligaments that support the foot resulting in painful walking and standing. It also causes the foot to change shape and become flat. The arthritis can affect the back of the foot or the middle of foot, both of which can result in a fallen arch.

An injury to the ligaments in the foot can also cause the joints to fall out of alignment. Ligaments normally support the bones and prevent them from moving. If they are torn, the foot will become flat and painful. In addition to ligament injuries, fractures and dislocations of the bones in the midfoot can also lead to a flatfoot deformity.

People with diabetes or with a nerve problem that limits normal feeling in the feet, can have arch collapse. This type of arch collapse is typically more of a problem because patients do not feel pain as the arch collapses. In addition to the ligaments not holding the bones in place, the bones themselves can sometimes fracture and disintegrate – without the patient feeling any pain. This may result in a severely deformed foot that is very challenging to correct with surgery. Special shoes or braces are typically the best method for dealing with this problem.

SRO’s Foot & Ankle Program

SRO’s Foot and Ankle Program is your first choice treatment program, caring for the foot and ankle no matter how common or complex. We provide a comprehensive array of treatment alternatives covering nonsurgical as well as surgical methods to overcome a patient’s pain and lost function. Take that first step towards better foot and ankle health and give us a call today.

Our Foot and Ankle surgeons, provides state-of-the-art care for all types of problems related to the foot and ankle. This includes, but is not limited to: trauma of the foot and post-traumatic reconstruction of the foot and ankle, foot deformities related to neuromuscular, arthritic and congenital conditions, tendon injuries of the hind foot and ankle, sports-related injuries and foot complications of diabetes mellitus. Learn more at SRO’s Foot & Ankle Center, call (707) 546-1922 or request an appointment now.