Most flat feet are not painful, particularly those flat feet seen in children. In the adult acquired flatfoot, pain occurs because soft tissues (tendons and ligaments) have been torn. The deformity
progresses or worsens because once the vital ligaments and posterior tibial tendon are lost, nothing can take their place to hold up the arch of the foot. The painful, progressive adult acquired
flatfoot affects women four times as frequently as men. It occurs in middle to older age people with a mean age of 60 years. Most people who develop the condition already have flat feet. A change
occurs in one foot where the arch begins to flatten more than before, with pain and swelling developing on the inside of the ankle. Why this event occurs in some people (female more than male) and
only in one foot remains poorly understood. Contributing factors increasing the risk of adult acquired flatfoot are diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
There are multiple factors contributing to the development of this problem. Damage to the nerves, ligaments, and/or tendons of the foot can cause subluxation (partial dislocation) of the subtalar or
talonavicular joints. Bone fracture is a possible cause. The resulting joint deformity from any of these problems can lead to adult-acquired flatfoot deformity. Dysfunction of the posterior tibial
tendon has always been linked with adult-acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD). The loss of active and passive pull of the tendon alters the normal biomechanics of the foot and ankle. The reasons for
this can be many and varied as well. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and prolonged use of steroids are some of the more common causes of adult-acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD) brought on by
impairment of the posterior tibialis tendon. Overstretching or rupture of the tendon results in tendon and muscle imbalance in the foot leading to adult-acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD). Rheumatoid
arthritis is one of the more common causes. About half of all adults with this type of arthritis will develop adult flatfoot deformity over time. In such cases, the condition is gradual and
progressive. Obesity has been linked with this condition. Loss of blood supply for any reason in the area of the posterior tibialis tendon is another factor. Other possible causes include bone
fracture or dislocation, a torn or stretched tendon, or a neurologic condition causing weakness.
Your feet tire easily or become painful with prolonged standing. It's difficult to move your heel or midfoot around, or to stand on your toes. Your foot aches, particularly in the heel or arch area,
with swelling along the inner side. Pain in your feet reduces your ability to participate in sports. You've been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis; about half of all people with rheumatoid
arthritis will develop a progressive flatfoot deformity.
The diagnosis of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction and AAFD is usually made from a combination of symptoms, physical exam and x-ray imaging. The location of pain, shape of the foot, flexibility of
the hindfoot joints and gait all may help your physician make the diagnosis and also assess how advanced the problem is.
Non surgical Treatment
Orthoses (insoles, functional orthoses, ankle supports, braces, ankle foot orthoses (AFOs)) - are usually custom-made to increase the functional stability of the foot and improve the mechanical
properties of the tendon as well as reducing the actual degree of strain on the tendon. This reduces pain and inflammation. Physiotherapy - exercises and physiotherapy are often used to increase
mobility, strengthen the tendon itself, stretch your Achilles tendon as well as reduce pain. Once the tendon has been stretched (stage one), the heel starts rolling outwards. Total immobilisation in
a cast may help the symptoms to subside and prevent progression of the deformity in a smaller percentage of patients. Long-term use of orthoses may help stop progression of the deformity and reduce
pain without surgery. Non-surgical treatment is unlikely to prevent progression to stage three and four but may be chosen by some patients who either are unsuitable for surgery or prefer not to have
If conservative treatments don?t work, your doctor may recommend surgery. Several procedures can be used to treat posterior tibial tendon dysfunction; often more than one procedure is performed at
the same time. Your doctor will recommend a specific course of treatment based on your individual case. Surgical options include. Tenosynovectomy. In this procedure, the surgeon will clean away
(debride) and remove (excise) any inflamed tissue surrounding the tendon. Osteotomy. This procedure changes the alignment of the heel bone (calcaneus). The surgeon may sometimes have to remove a
portion of the bone. Tendon transfer: This procedure uses some fibers from another tendon (the flexor digitorum longus, which helps bend the toes) to repair the damaged posterior tibial tendon.
Lateral column lengthening, In this procedure, the surgeon places a small wedge-shaped piece of bone into the outside of the calcaneus. This helps realign the bones and recreates the arch.
Arthrodesis. This procedure welds (fuses) one or more bones together, eliminating movement in the joint. This stabilizes the hindfoot and prevents the condition from progressing further.