Maybe you’ve noticed that you have no arch in your foot. Or when you walk, your feet seem flatter than your friends’ feet. You might even have pain on the inside of your foot. You may have a flatfoot!
What is a flatfoot deformity?
A flatfoot is a common foot deformity, and ‘deformity’ is not the best way to describe a flatfoot, as having a flatfoot can be a normal variant for some kids and adults. A flatfoot is not a problem unless it is painful.
A flatfoot is a decrease in the arch of the foot in addition to the heel turning ‘in’ (valgus), and the toes drifting outward.
How do you know if your foot is flat? Are flatfeet normal?
Yes! Flatfeet can be a normal variant of foot structure. In general, a flatfoot is a problem when the foot tells you it is a problem–when you develop pain.
What are the other names for flatfoot in adults?
There are many causes and names for a flatfoot in adults. Many adults have flatfeet with no pain, and they can be active without issues. Other patients develop pain.
Other names for flatfeet are the following:
- Progressive collapsing foot deformity
- Adult acquired flatfoot deformity
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
What is the anatomy of a flatfoot?
This is a complex question. A ‘flatfoot’ is an abnormal alignment of bones in your ankle and foot. This primarily affects the talonavicular and subtalar joints, but all joints can be affected.
The posterior tibial tendon and muscle are deep in the calf (leg), and run on the inside of the ankle to the foot. The posterior tibial tendon helps with maintaining your arch when you walk.
Strong ligaments, e.g. the Spring ligament, on the inside of your foot help stabilize your arch as well.
In a flatfoot, it is important to evaluate the relationship of the bones of the heel and the foot.
What are the symptoms of flatfoot?
Patients with flatfoot can develop a number of symptoms. Patients can experience pain over the inside of the ankle/arch or on the outside of their foot. Patients might notice their arch start to ‘fall’. Also, patients may develop weakness and difficulty walking long distances.
- Arch flattening
- Calf tightness
- Unable to stand on toes
Patients often lose their ability to stand on their toes.
Can flatfeet cause knee, hip, or back pain?
Often when a patient develops a foot pain or deformity, their gait is altered. An altered gait can lead to developing knee, hip, or back pain in the same or opposite side. It is rare to have structural damage in those body parts from the altered gait. Often, those pains improve when the root cause, the flatfoot, is treated.
The surgeons and Southwest Orthopedic Group and Dr. Stautberg can help determine if you have a symptomatic flatfoot through a physical exam and imaging, such as x-rays.
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) has more information about flatfoot at FootCareMD.
For more questions or to set up an evaluation, contact Dr. Stautberg’s office at 281-977-4870.