Adult Acquired Flatfoot
occurs when the arch of your foot collapses after your
skeleton has stopped growing, usually resulting in the foot falling inward with the toes pointing out. This allows your entire sole to touch the ground when you stand, instead of just the outside
area. Arches fall for many reasons, including arthritis, injury to the supporting tendons or bones, nerve problems, diabetic collapse, pregnancy, aging, and obesity. A fallen arch doesn?t have to be
painful-though as it develops and worsens, it can lead to strain and weakness in the feet that could allow for more uncomfortable foot problems later. Diabetics can develop serious complications from
their fallen arches, and need to have their condition evaluated and treated.
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is the most common cause of acquired adult flatfoot. Sometimes this can be a result of specific trauma, but usually the tendon becomes injured from wear and tear
over time. This is more prevalent in individuals with an inherited flat foot but excessive weight, age, and level of activity are also contributing factors.
The first stage represents inflammation and symptoms originating from an irritated posterior tibial tendon, which is still functional. Stage two is characterized by a change in the alignment of the
foot noted on observation while standing (see above photos). The deformity is supple meaning the foot is freely movable and a ?normal? position can be restored by the examiner. Stage two is also
associated with the inability to perform a single-leg heel rise. The third stage is dysfunction of the posterior tibial tendon is a flatfoot deformity that becomes stiff because of arthritis.
Prolonged deformity causes irritation to the involved joints resulting in arthritis. The fourth phase is a flatfoot deformity either supple (stage two) or stiff (stage 3) with involvement of the
ankle joint. This occurs when the deltoid ligament, the major supporting structure on the inside of the ankle, fails to provide support. The ankle becomes unstable and will demonstrate a tilted
appearance on X-ray. Failure of the deltoid ligament results from an inward displacement of the weight bearing forces. When prolonged, this change can lead to ankle arthritis. The vast majority of
patients with acquired adult flatfoot deformity are stage 2 by the time they seek treatment from a physician.
The history and physical examination are probably the most important tools the physician uses to diagnose this problem. The wear pattern on your shoes can offer some helpful clues. Muscle testing
helps identify any areas of weakness or muscle impairment. This should be done in both the weight bearing and nonweight bearing positions. A very effective test is the single heel raise. You will be
asked to stand on one foot and rise up on your toes. You should be able to lift your heel off the ground easily while keeping the calcaneus (heel bone) in the middle with slight inversion (turned
inward). X-rays are often used to study the position, shape, and alignment of the bones in the feet and ankles. Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is the imaging modality of choice for evaluating the
posterior tibial tendon and spring ligament complex.
Non surgical Treatment
Because of the progressive nature of PTTD, early treatment is critical. If treated soon enough, symptoms may resolve without the need for surgery and progression of the condition can be stopped. If
left untreated, PTTD may create an extremely flat foot, painful arthritis in the foot and ankle, and will limit your ability to walk, run, and other activities. Your podiatrist may recommend one or
more of these non-surgical treatments to manage your PTTD. Orthotic devices or bracing. To give your arch the support it needs, your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend an ankle brace or a custom
orthotic device that fits into your shoe to support the arch. Immobilization. A short-leg cast or boot may be worn to immobilize the foot and allow the tendon to heal. Physical therapy. Ultrasound
therapy and stretching exercises may help rehabilitate the tendon and muscle following immobilization. Medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, help reduce the
pain and inflammation. Shoe modifications. Your foot and ankle surgeon may recommend changes in your footwear.
Surgery should only be done if the pain does not get better after a few months of conservative treatment. The type of surgery depends on the stage of the PTTD disease. It it also dictated by where
tendonitis is located and how much the tendon is damaged. Surgical reconstruction can be extremely complex. Some of the common surgeries include. Tenosynovectomy, removing the inflamed tendon sheath
around the PTT. Tendon Transfer, to augment the function of the diseased posterior tibial tendon with a neighbouring tendon. Calcaneo-osteotomy, sometimes the heel bone needs to be corrected to get a
better heel bone alignment. Fusion of the Joints, if osteoarthritis of the foot has set in, fusion of the joints may be necessary.