Flatfoot or fallen arch is a medical condition that can develop over time or appear suddenly. Adult-acquired flatfoot or posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is the most common type of flatfoot in adults. It usually leads to a gradual loss of the arch. The posterior tibial muscle is a deep muscle in the back of the calf and has a long tendon that extends from above the ankle and attaches into several sites around the arch of the foot. The muscle acts like a stirrup on the inside of the foot to help support the arch. The posterior tibial muscle stabilizes the arch and creates a rigid platform for walking and running. If the posterior tibial tendon becomes damaged or tears, the arch loses its stability and as a result, collapses, causing flatfoot.
Although many people with flatfoot do not require treatment, some may need surgical intervention to correct the deformity. The surgical correction of flatfoot is a team effort involving a podiatrist, orthopedist, physical therapist, and sometimes a pain specialist. Several procedures may be required to correct a flatfoot deformity, depending on the severity of the problem. Here are the most common surgical treatments for flatfoot correction:
Tenosynovectomy: This is a minimally invasive procedure that involves cleaning up the inflamed tissue around the damaged tendon. The procedure aims to remove the irritants and smooth the tendon’s surface, allowing it to glide freely.
Osteotomy: This is a surgical procedure that involves removing a portion of the heel bone (calcaneus) to realign the foot structure. The surgeon may also use screws, metal plates, or pins to stabilize the bone until it heals.
Tendon Transfer: This involves taking healthy replacement fibers from another tendon and transplanting them to replace the damaged fibers. The transplanted tendon can help repair the damaged tendon and restore the arch’s stability.
Lateral Column Lengthening: This procedure can correct a flatfoot caused by arthritis, injury, or other conditions that affect the bone’s shape. During the surgery, the surgeon takes a small piece of bone from another part of the body and attaches it to the heel bone. The bone graft helps to create the proper bone alignment and rebuilds the arch.
Arthrodesis: This surgical procedure fuses one or more joints in the foot, eliminating any movement between them permanently. The procedure helps to stabilize the foot and prevent any further damage, especially in advanced cases of flatfoot.
Recovering from flatfoot surgery can take several weeks to months, and patients may experience discomfort and need to keep their foot elevated. Post-operative rehabilitation is an essential part of flatfoot correction. It aims at promoting proper healing and restoring optimal foot function. Patients will need to wear a cast or brace during recovery and attend regular physical therapy appointments.
In conclusion, if you have symptoms of a flatfoot deformity, such as pain, swelling, and difficulty walking, you may benefit from surgical intervention. Dr. Gilbert Huang DPM is a foot and ankle specialist, trained in the diagnosis and treatment of various foot and ankle conditions, including flatfoot. He can assess your condition, recommend the best treatment options, and guide you through the recovery process. Do not hesitate to seek medical attention and schedule an appointment with Dr. Gilbert Huang DPM.