What are flat feet?
Most people have an arch along the inside of their feet. The arch creates space between the foot and the ground. Many shoes are designed to fit along this arch. In some people, this arch falls. These people have “Pes Planus”, the medical term for flat feet.
What causes flat feet?
Some people are born with “flat feet”. Usually in these cases the feet are still supple and pain free and may not require treatment unless they start to hurt.
Flat feet can develop in later life when a tendon at the back of the foot begins to fail. The Tibialis Posterior tendon can become worn or damaged. When this tendon wears out the arches of the foot may fall. The foot can become painful as the shape of the foot changes.
What are the treatments available for flat feet?
Treatment is usually only needed if you are experiencing pain with your flat feet. The first thing to try is usually an insole or orthotic to give the inside of your foot more support. This is usually successful although you may need to continue to wear your insoles in the long term.
If orthotics do not help then surgery is sometimes used to restore the arch of the foot and reinforce the worn tendon.
What can I expect after surgery?
After surgery, whilst in the operating theatre, your leg will be protected in a plaster cast which will stay on the leg for two weeks. At two weeks the sutures are removed and you will be put into a definitive cast. You will not be able to walk on your foot for 6 weeks.
Once you are free from the cast you will be allowed to put more weight on your foot. You will need to wear a protectve boot fot a further 6 weeks. Physiotherapy may be required to build up the muscles in the leg and to restore the movement to your ankle and hindfoot, which will have become quite stiff in the plaster.
The foot and ankle can remain swollen for up to a year. The reconstruction can take up to a year to develop the strength needed to support the arch again. Some people also find it more comfortable to wear supportive orthotics even after surgery.