How to Tell if you Have Flat Feet: Symptoms of Flat Feet

How to Tell if you Have Flat Feet: Symptoms of Flat Feet

Article Featured on AAOS

A variety of foot problems can lead to adult acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD), a condition that results in a fallen arch with the foot pointed outward.

Most people — no matter what the cause of their flatfoot — can be helped with orthotics, braces and physical therapy. In patients who have tried these treatments without any relief, surgery can be a very effective way to help with the pain and deformity. This article provides a brief overview of the problems that can result in AAFD.

Adult acquired flatfoot

One of the more common signs of flatfoot is the “too many toes” sign. Even the big toe can be seen from the back of this patient’s foot. In a normal foot, only the fourth and fifth toes should be visible.

Symptoms of Flat Feet

Depending on the cause of the flatfoot, a patient may experience one or more of the different symptoms below:

  • Pain along the course of the posterior tibial tendon which lies on the inside of the foot and ankle. This can be associated with swelling on the inside of the ankle.
  • Pain that is worse with activity. High intensity or impact activities, such as running, can be very difficult. Some patients can have difficulty walking or even standing for long periods of time.
  • When the foot collapses, the heel bone may shift position and put pressure on the outside ankle bone (fibula). This can cause pain on the outside of the ankle. Arthritis in the heel also causes this same type of pain.
  • Patients with an old injury or arthritis in the middle of the foot can have painful, bony bumps on the top and inside of the foot. These make shoewear very difficult. Occasionally, the bony spurs are so large that they pinch the nerves which can result in numbness and tingling on the top of the foot and into the toes.
  • Diabetics may only notice swelling or a large bump on the bottom of the foot. Because their sensation is affected, people with diabetes may not have any pain. The large bump can cause skin problems and an ulcer (a sore that does not heal) may develop if proper diabetic shoewear is not used.

Causes of Flat Feet

As discussed above, many health conditions can create a painful flatfoot.

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)

Damage to the posterior tibial tendon is the most common cause of AAFD. The posterior tibial tendon is one of the most important tendons of the leg. It starts at a muscle in the calf, travels down the inside of the lower leg and attaches to the bones on the inside of the foot.

The main function of this tendon is to hold up the arch and support your foot when you walk. If the tendon becomes inflamed or torn, the arch will slowly collapse.

Anatomy of the foot

The posterior tibial tendon attaches the calf muscle to the bones on the inside of the foot.

Women and people over 40 are more likely to develop problems with the posterior tibial tendon. Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Having flat feet since childhood increases the risk of developing a tear in the posterior tibial tendon. In addition, people who are involved in high impact sports, such as basketball, tennis, or soccer, may have tears of the tendon from repetitive use.

Arthritis from Flat Feet

Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can cause a painful flatfoot. This type of arthritis attacks not only the cartilage in the joints, but also the ligaments that support the foot. Inflammatory arthritis not only causes pain, but also causes the foot to change shape and become flat.

The arthritis can affect the back of the foot or the middle of foot, both of which can result in a fallen arch.

Injuries as a Result of Flat Feet

An injury to the ligaments in the foot can cause the joints to fall out of alignment. The ligaments support the bones and prevent them from moving. If the ligaments are torn, the foot will become flat and painful. This more commonly occurs in the middle of the foot (Lisfranc injury), but can also occur in the back of the foot.

In addition to ligament injuries, fractures and dislocations of the bones in the midfoot can also lead to a flatfoot deformity.

Diabetic Collapse (Charcot Foot)

People with diabetes or with a nerve problem that limits normal feeling in the feet, can have arch collapse.

This type of arch collapse is typically more severe than that seen in patients with normal feeling in their feet. This is because patients do not feel pain as the arch collapses. In addition to the ligaments not holding the bones in place, the bones themselves can sometimes fracture and disintegrate – without the patient feeling any pain. This may result in a severely deformed foot that is very challenging to correct with surgery. Special shoes or braces are the best method for dealing with this problem.

Summary

Adult acquired flatfoot is one of the most common problems affecting the foot and ankle. Treatment ranges from nonsurgical methods — such as orthotics and braces — to surgery. Your doctor will create a treatment plan for you based on what is causing your AAFD.


Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm

What Is Dupuytren's Disease and How Is It Treated?

What Is Dupuytren’s Disease and How Is It Treated?

Article Featured on Michigan Hand & Wrist

If you begin to notice lumps on the palm side of your hand, then you might just have Dupuytren’s disease, and if left untreated, you could possibly lose motion in your fingers. While Dupuytren’s disease is called a disease, it is actually a genetic condition. You would need to have a physical exam to get tested for it. If you think you may have this disease, you should reach out to a hand specialist to look into treatment options as soon as possible.

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5 Ways to Help Prevent Arthritis

5 Ways to Help Prevent Arthritis

Article Featured on Michigan Hand & Wrist

While it may not be possible to completely get rid of your risk of developing arthritis, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk and delay the onset. Arthritis happens when cartilage wears away, causing your bones to rub against and damage each other, which is why you feel pain. There are some tips you can follow that may help arthritis from developing, which include:

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Did I Tear my Meniscus? Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus

Did I Tear my Meniscus? Symptoms of a Torn Meniscus

Article Featured on Brigham Health

What is a torn meniscus?

There are 3 bones in the knee. These are the femur, tibia, and patella. The ends of those bones are covered with cartilage. This is a smooth material that cushions the bone and allows the joint to move easily without pain. The cartilage acts as a shock absorber. Between the bones of the knees are 2 crescent-shaped disks of connective tissue, called menisci. These also act as shock absorbers to cushion the lower part of the leg from the weight of the rest of the body.

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How to tell if you have Whiplash

How to tell if you have Whiplash

Article Featured on Mayo Clinic

Overview

Whiplash is a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip. Whiplash most often occurs during a rear-end auto accident, but the injury can also result from a sports accident, physical abuse or other trauma.

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What are some common hand problems?

What are some common hand problems?

Article Featured on Johns Hopkins

Anatomy of the hand

The hand is composed of many different bones, muscles, and ligaments that allow for a large amount of movement and dexterity. There are 3 major types of bones in the hand itself, including:

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12 Ways to Have a Healthy Holiday Season

Article Featured on cdc.gov

Brighten the holidays by making your health and safety a priority. Take steps to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy—and ready to enjoy the holidays.

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Can orthopedic surgeons repair cartilage damage

Can orthopedic surgeons repair cartilage damage?

Article Featured on OrthoInfo

Because cartilage does not heal itself well, doctors have developed surgical techniques to stimulate the growth of new cartilage. Restoring articular cartilage can relieve pain and allow better function.

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ACL Injuries in Children and Adolescents

ACL Injuries in Children and Adolescents

Article Featured on Nationwide Children’s

It has been frequently emphasized that children are not simply “small adults.” Children and adults are different anatomically and physiologically in many ways. Knee injuries in children and adolescents frequently demonstrate these differences.

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Lumbar Spine Surgery

Article Featured on Spine Health

Lumbar surgery refers to any type of surgery in the lumbar spine, or lower back, between one or more of the L1-S1 levels. There are two general types of lumbar spine surgery that comprise the most common surgical procedures for the lower back:

Lumbar Decompression

The goal of a decompression surgery is usually to relieve pain caused by nerve root pinching. There are two common causes of lumbar nerve root pressure: from a lumbar herniated disc or lumbar spinal stenosis.

This type of pain is usually referred to as a radiculopathy, or sciatica.

A decompression surgery involves removing a small portion of the bone over the nerve root and/or disc material from under the nerve root to relieve pinching of the nerve and provide more room for the nerve to heal. The most common types of decompression surgery are microdiscectomy and laminectomy.

There are also a few alternatives available to the above two standard procedures, such as an X-STOP which is a possible option instead of a laminectomy for lumbar spinal stenosis.

Lumbar Fusion

The goal of a lumbar fusion is to stop the pain at a painful motion segment in the lower back. Most commonly, this type of surgery is performed for pain and disability caused by lumbar degenerative disc disease or a spondylolisthesis.

A spinal fusion surgery involves using a bone graft to stop the motion at a painful vertebral segment, which in turn should decrease pain generated from the joint. Spine surgery instrumentation (medical devices), bone graft procedures, and a bone stimulator are sometimes used along with spinal fusion.

There are also many surgical approaches to performing spinal fusion, such as ALIF, PLIF, XLIF, TLIF, posterolateral gutter fusion, anterior/posterior fusion, and certain minimally invasive approaches.

In addition to the above conditions, decompression and/or spinal fusion may be performed to address other types of lumbar spine pathologies, such as infection or tumors.

Lumbar Spine Surgery Alternatives

In addition to the traditional one-level fusion or decompression surgery that is done for lumbar degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis, respectively, there are a number of surgical alternatives available. Several of the most common ones include:

Artificial Disc Replacement

Artificial disc technology can be used in specific cases of lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Motion Preservation Technologies

It should be known that while spinal fusion has been a classical treatment for ongoing pain and disability from the lumbar spine, alternatives to fusion do exist for posterior conditions (problems in the back of the lumbar spine) such as spinal stenosis. Inserting an interspinous process spacer, such as the X-STOP device, can actually preserve motion as opposed to stopping it via fusion.

Vertebral Augmentation

A surgery called vertebral augmentation may be done to treat pathological fractures from tumors or osteoporosis.

Multilevel Lumbar Fusion

Lumbar spine fusion surgery for symptomatic degenerative disc disease is typically done on one level of the spine (most commonly toward the bottom of the spine, at L5-S1 or L4-L5). In certain cases it may be done on two levels, and only very rarely would it be considered on 3 or more levels. Multilevel spine fusion may be indicated in cases of scoliosis.

There are only two things that surgery can do. Surgery can decompress a nerve root or it can stabilize a painful motion segment. So we have to identify a nerve root that’s pinched or we have to identify a painful motion segment. And if we can do that, that would make you a candidate for surgery. Just having pain and having failed conservative treatment is not an indication for surgery if there is no pathological cause of the pain – it doesn’t mean there’s not pain, but we have to identify the cause of pain in order to be able to correct it. The only thing surgery can do is actually correct an anatomical defect, so we have to be able to identify it.


Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.

Phone:
503-224-8399

Address
1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

Hours
Monday–Friday
8:00am – 4:30pm