Flatfoot is common in both children and adults. When this deformity occurs in children it is referred to as pediatric flatfoot. Most children with flatfeet have no symptoms but some may exhibit: pain, tenderness or cramping in the foot/leg/knee, outward tilting of the heel, awkwardness or changes in walking, difficulty with shoes, reduced energy when participating in physical activities, voluntary withdrawal from physical activities.
After assessment by your foot and ankle specialist, treatment is often guided by symptoms. Treatments can include: activity modification, orthotics, physical therapy, medications, and shoe modifications.
Adult acquired flatfoot (also called posterior tibial tendon dysfunction or PTTD) is a condition caused by changes in the posterior tibial tendon, affecting its ability to support the arch.
PTTD is usually progressive, which means it will keep getting worse, especially if it is not treated early. The symptoms of PTTD may include pain, swelling, a flattening of the arch and an inward rolling of the ankle. As PTTD becomes more advanced, the arch flattens even more and arthritis often develops in the foot and even ankle. If treated early enough, your symptoms may resolve without the need for surgery, and progression of your condition can be stopped. In many cases of PTTD, treatment begins with nonsurgical approaches that may include: orthotic devices or bracing, immobilization, physical therapy, medications, shoe modification.
Untreated PTTD could leave you with an extremely flat foot, painful arthritis in the foot and ankle and increasing limitations on walking, running or other activities.
To learn more about foot and ankle conditions, visit the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ patient education website, FootHealthFacts.org