A Brief Look at Flexible Flatfoot

Flatfoot is a condition that is characterised by deformity. There are different kinds of Flatfoot Deformities but one of the most common is Flexible Flatfoot, which typically begins in childhood or adolescence and continues into adulthood. The condition generally occurs in both feet and then progresses in its severity throughout most of the adult years. As the condition progresses the tendons, ligaments and the soft tissues of the arch can tear or stretch and become inflamed. It is referred to as flexible since even though the weight-bearing foot is flat while standing, the arch returns to its original shape while not standing.

Symptoms associated with flexible flatfoot

The symptoms of flexible flatfoot vary from patient to patient and include the following:

  • Lower back, knee or hip pain
  • General fatigue or aching in the leg or foot
  • Pain along the patient’s shin bone
  • Over-pronation of the ankle or “rolled-in” ankle
  • Pain in the arch, heel, ankle, or the area just along the outside of the patient’s foot

Flexible Flatfoot Diagnosis

Diagnosis of flexible flatfoot, will first involve examination of the foot and how it functions when the patient is trying to sit and stand. The overall severity of the condition is determined by X-rays. Sometimes a patient might have flexible flatfoot without any associated symptoms. In such cases, the specialist will try and determine what the patient might experience in the future.

Treatment of Flexible Flatfoot

There are a number of non-surgical treatment options for managing Flexible Flat Foot, such as:

Activity modification: The patient should minimize activities that cause pain and strictly avoid prolonged standing and walking so that the arches may have rest.

Immobilization: In certain instances, it may become necessary to make use of a walking cast. The specialist may also recommend complete avoidance of weight bearing.

Orthotic devices: The surgeon can present the patient with customized orthotic devices so that additional support is provided for the arches.

Weight loss: Having too much additional weight on the arches may actually aggravate the symptoms. If the patient is overweight, he or she will likely benefit from losing weight.

Physical therapy: Physical therapy modalities like ultrasound therapy can be used for providing temporary relief.

Medications: The surgeon may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen to help reduce the pain and inflammation.

AFO or Ankle Foot Orthoses devices: The specialist may recommend some advanced bracing for modifying walking and providing support to the arches.

Shoe modifications: If the patient is not already doing so, modifying their shoes to ensure appropriate arch support may be of benefit.

If the above procedures fail to resolve the pain associated with flexible flatfoot, surgery may become necessary. The type of surgery that is carried out will depend on the extent of the deformity, as indicated by x-ray findings, the age of the patient, activity levels and various other factors.