deformity caused by dysfunction of the posterior tibial
tendon is a common clinical problem. Treatment, which depends on the severity of the symptoms and the stage of the disease, includes non-operative options, such as rest, administration of
anti-inflammatory medication, and immobilization, as well as operative options, such as tendon transfer, calcaneal osteotomy, and several methods of arthrodesis.
Flat feet causes greater pressure on the posterior tibial tendon than normal. As the person with flat feet ages, the muscles, tendons and ligaments weaken. Blood supplies diminish as arteries narrow.
These conditions are magnified for obese patients because of their increased weight and atherosclerosis. Finally, the tendon gives out or tears. Most of the time, this is a slow process. Once the
posterior tibial tendon and ligaments stretch, body weight causes the bones of the arch to move out of position. The foot rotates inward (pronation), the heel bone is tilted to the inside, and the
arch appears collapsed. In some cases, the deformity progresses until the foot dislocates outward from the ankle joint.
Patients will usually describe their initial symptoms as "ankle pain", as the PT Tendon becomes painful around the inside of the ankle joint. The pain will become more intense as the foot flattens
out, due to the continued stretching and tearing of the PT Tendon. As the arches continue to fall, and pronation increases, the heel bone (Calcaneus) tilts into a position where it pinches against
the ankle bone (Fibula), causing pain on both the inside and outside of the ankle. As the foot spends increased time in a flattened, or deformed position, Arthritis can begin to affect the joints of
the foot, causing additional pain.
It is of great importance to have a full evaluation, by a foot and ankle specialist with expertise in addressing complex flatfoot deformities. No two flat feet are alike; therefore, "Universal"
treatment plans do not exist for the Adult Flatfoot. It is important to have a custom treatment plan that is tailored to your specific foot. That starts by first understanding all the intricacies of
your foot, through an extensive evaluation. X-rays of the foot and ankle are standard, and MRI may be used to better assess the quality of the PT Tendon.
Non surgical Treatment
Icing and anti-inflammatory medications can reduce inflammation and physical therapy can strengthen the tibial tendon. Orthotic inserts that go inside your shoes are a common way to treat and prevent
flatfoot pain. Orthotics control the position of the foot and alleviate areas of pressure. In some cases immobilization in a cast or walking boot is necessary to relieve symptoms, and in severe cases
surgery may be required to repair tendon damage.
Although non-surgical treatments can successfully manage the symptoms, they do not correct the underlying problem. It can require a life-long commitment to wearing the brace during periods of
increased pain or activity demands. This will lead a majority of patients to choose surgical correction of the deformity, through Reconstructive Surgery. All of the considerations that were extremely
important during the evaluation stage become even more important when creating a surgical plan. Generally, a combination of procedures are utilized in the same setting, to allow full correction of
the deformity. Many times, this can be performed as a same-day surgery, without need for an overnight hospital stay. However, one or two day hospital admissions can be utilized to help manage the
post-operative pain. Although the recovery process can require a significant investment of time, the subsequent decades of improved function and activity level, as well as decreased pain, leads to a
substantial return on your investment.