Correcting Flatfoot: Restoring a Pain-free Gait

Even though flatfoot is often a painless condition, the simple fact of the matter is this: Flatfoot

Any structural deformity has the potential to cause pain and difficulty for some people.

If flatfoot is the problem, Dr. Matt Wettstein has an array of treatment options that may be able to help you find relief from painful symptoms and allow you to participate in your favorite activities. These options are both of the conservative and surgical varieties.

Which approach is right for you will depend on an array of factors, but you should know that Dr. Wettstein is experienced in helping patients overcome issues from flat feet—and he can do the same for you.

Flat Feet Problems

Your arch is an important part of your foot. It helps your body both absorb pressure and distribute body weight evenly through your lower limbs. When it’s too low, however, it’s unable to do this efficiently—that means your whole foot is destabilized and you become more prone to painful problems.

With a flatfoot condition, you’re more susceptible to foot fatigue, midfoot pain, heel pain, and overuse injuries of all kinds. Sometimes it can increase your odds for bunions and toe deformities like hammertoes.

Why does that happen?

Whereas a certain degree of pronation—an inward-rolling motion (of roughly 15%) feet use to more efficiently absorb physical forces and keep a foot moving forward during the ground portion of a step--is normal, excessive rotation is a problem.

In fact, overpronation from fallen arches is responsible (or at least contributes to) those aforementioned problems.

That all being said, many cases of flat feet do not cause problems, which means you do not require any treatment and should simply monitor the condition to ensure that problems do not arise.

When there are problems, you have options to have them treated. Depending on your case, this may be either surgical or conservative in nature. With regards to surgery, we are talking about flatfoot correction.

Flatfoot Correction

In the event we’ve reached the conclusion that nonsurgical methods are not doing enough to relieve painful symptoms and enable you to participate in normal activity, it’s time to at least consider flatfoot surgery.

There are several specific techniques we may use, and they can be separated into two categories:

  •  Those used to repair tendons and ligaments.
  •  Those used to correct bone deformities.

Depending on the case, we may elect to use a combination of both types of procedures. Regardless as to which specific procedures are being performed, anesthesia (either general or regional) will be used.

Specific procedures we may recommend and/or perform include:

  • Medializing Calcaneal Osteotomy. This technique corrects the placement of a heel bone that has slipped out of position.
  • Lateral Column Lengthening. A bone wedge is used to rotate the foot into a correct position, while also “lengthening” the heel bone.
  • First Tarsal-Metatarsal Fusion. To keep the big toe bone in proper position, the bone may be pushed down and fused into place.
  • Tendon and Ligament Procedures. These can entail removing, transferring, and/or repairing connective tissues.
  • Double or Triple Arthrodesis. When arthritis is present, we may need to fuse one or more of the joints in the foot.

Foot Surgery Recovery

It is definitely important to know what to expect from the procedure itself, but also to understand what will be entailed with the recovery process.

Once the surgery is completed, we will schedule follow-up visits and provide specific instructions to be performed at home. These may include keeping the leg elevated and avoiding placing weight on the corrected foot for certain periods of time.

Our office will provide a full schedule for your progression leading up to normal activities.

Other Forms of Flatfoot Treatment

Conservative therapies are always the first option for treatment, particularly for an issue like fallen arches or flat feet.

Before we consider surgery as a way to treat a case of flat feet, we will attempt nonsurgical options to provide relief from your painful symptoms. These include:

  • Stretching exercises. It is common for someone who has flat feet to also have shortened Achilles tendons, so exercises that stretch the tendon can help. We might include specific lower leg stretches as part of your treatment plan.
  • Supportive shoes. If you are active—and especially if you run on a regular basis—you may benefit from a pair of motion-control shoes. This type of footwear is specifically engineered to reduce the overpronation that leads to issues.
  • Orthotic devices. Depending on your unique foot structure, we might either recommend over-the-counter arch supports or prescribe a pair of custom orthotic devices. With custom orthotics, the devices are crafted to work specifically with your feet. Over-the-counter arch supports do not offer the same level of customization, but might be enough to reduce symptoms.
  • Physical therapy. Some flatfoot issues are attributed to overuse. A gait analysis can potentially be useful for improving form and technique.
  • Professional Flatfoot Treatment

As previously noted, you might not need any treatment for flat feet if you aren’t presenting any symptoms or difficulty. And if you are having issues, we find that conservative care is effective for most patients.

If surgery becomes your best option for finding relief from painful symptoms, Advanced Foot and Ankle is ready to help. We offer the right personnel, equipment, and environment for successful flatfoot surgery procedures.

Feel free to contact us for additional information by calling (208) 731-6321 to reach our Twin Falls, ID office or (208) 312-4646 to reach our Burley office. You can also schedule an appointment at either location online today.