4 Things You Need to Know about Adult-Acquired Flat Foot

Flat foot is a deformity of the feet that is characterized by fallen arches. When you have fallen arches, the entirety of the soles of your feet make contact with the ground when you stand or walk. This deformity can develop during adulthood; here are four things you need to know about adult-acquired flat foot.

What causes adult-acquired flat foot?

Adult-acquired flat foot can have many causes. One potential cause is damage to the tendon within your ankle. The tension from this tendon holds up your arch, so if it gets stretched or torn, your arch can fall, leaving you with flat foot.

The condition can also be caused by arthritis. Arthritis attacks the cartilage and ligaments within your foot, and over time, this can make your foot become flat. Diabetes can have a similar effect on the feet.

What are the signs of this condition?

If you have this condition, you may feel pain along the bottom or side of your foot. This pain may get worse during high-impact activities like running, but some people have pain during low-impact activities like walking or even just standing still. You may feel pain along the outside of your ankle as well as in your foot. This pain occurs when your flat foot makes the bone in your heel shift positions and puts pressure on the bone within your ankle.

Other symptoms are also possible. If you have arthritis, you may feel painful bumps on the top of your foot, and these bumps can make it hard to wear shoes. If you have diabetes, you may develop swelling or a bump on the bottom of your foot.

How common is it?

Studies have shown that adult-acquired flat foot is three times more common in women than in men, and the median age of sufferers is 59. One study found that adult-acquired flat foot affected 3.3% of women over 40. Another study examined elderly patients and found that 9.2% of them had adult-acquired flat food. 

Can podiatrists treat it?

Your podiatrist may recommend custom-made arch supports called orthotics to hold your foot in its proper place. Orthotics aren't a cure for flat foot, but while you're wearing them, your feet may feel more comfortable. Orthotics are also available over-the-counter, but since they're not molded to your foot, they aren't ideal.

If the tendon within your ankle is torn or stretched, you may need to have surgery to repair it. Once your tendon is repaired, your flat foot should be improved, though curing flat foot isn't the goal of tendon repair surgeries.

Adult-acquired flat foot is a painful condition, so if you think you have it, seek the help of a podiatrist, such as Dr. Russell Newsom, right away.