Adult-acquired flatfoot or collapsed arch occurs because the large tendon on the inside of the ankle - the posterior tibial tendon - becomes stretched out and no longer supports the foot?s arch. In
many cases, the condition worsens and and the tendon thickens, becoming painful, especially during activities. Flatfoot or collapsed arch is also known as posterior tibial tendon dysfunction. This
condition is different than having flat feet since birth (known as congenital flatfoot), although sometimes these patients develop similar symptoms and require similar treatments.
Causes of an adult acquired flatfoot may include Neuropathic foot (Charcot foot) secondary to Diabetes mellitus, Leprosy, Profound peripheral neuritis of any cause. Degenerative changes in the ankle,
talonavicular or tarsometatarsal joints, or both, secondary to Inflammatory arthropathy, Osteoarthropathy, Fractures, Acquired flatfoot resulting from loss of the supporting structures of the medial
longitudinal arch. Dysfunction of the tibialis posterior tendon Tear of the spring (calcaneoanvicular) ligament (rare). Tibialis anterior rupture (rare). Painful flatfoot can have other causes, such
as tarsal coalition, but as such a patient will not present with a change in the shape of the foot these are not included here.
At first you may notice pain and swelling along the medial (big toe) side of the foot. This is where the posterior tibialis tendon travels from the back of the leg under the medial ankle bone to the
foot. As the condition gets worse, tendon failure occurs and the pain gets worse. Some patients experience pain along the lateral (outside) edge of the foot, too. You may find that your feet hurt at
the end of the day or after long periods of standing. Some people with this condition have trouble rising up on their toes. They may be unable to participate fully in sports or other recreational
In diagnosing flatfoot, the foot & Ankle surgeon examines the foot and observes how it looks when you stand and sit. Weight bearing x-rays are used to determine the severity of the disorder.
Advanced imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CAT or CT) scans may be used to assess different ligaments, tendons and joint/cartilage damage. The foot &
Ankle Institute has three extremity MRI?s on site at our Des Plaines, Highland Park, and Lincoln Park locations. These extremity MRI?s only take about 30 minutes for the study and only requires the
patient put their foot into a painless machine avoiding the uncomfortable Claustrophobia that some MRI devices create.
Non surgical Treatment
Orthoses (insoles, functional orthoses, ankle supports, braces, ankle foot orthoses (AFOs)) - are usually custom-made to increase the functional stability of the foot and improve the mechanical
properties of the tendon as well as reducing the actual degree of strain on the tendon. This reduces pain and inflammation. Physiotherapy - exercises and physiotherapy are often used to increase
mobility, strengthen the tendon itself, stretch your Achilles tendon as well as reduce pain. Once the tendon has been stretched (stage one), the heel starts rolling outwards. Total immobilisation in
a cast may help the symptoms to subside and prevent progression of the deformity in a smaller percentage of patients. Long-term use of orthoses may help stop progression of the deformity and reduce
pain without surgery. Non-surgical treatment is unlikely to prevent progression to stage three and four but may be chosen by some patients who either are unsuitable for surgery or prefer not to have
Surgical treatment should be considered when all other conservative treatment has failed. Surgery options for flatfoot reconstruction depend on the severity of the flatfoot. Surgery for a flexible
flatfoot deformity (flatfoot without arthritis to the foot joints) involves advancing the posterior tibial tendon under the arch to provide more support and decrease elongation of the tendon as well
as addressing the hindfoot eversion with a osteotomy to the calcaneus (surgical cut in the heel bone). Additionally, the Achilles tendon may need to be lengthened because of the compensatory
contracture of the Achilles tendon with flatfoot deformity. Flatfoot deformity with arthritic changes to the foot is considered a rigid flatfoot. Correction of a rigid flatfoot deformity usually
involves surgical fusion of the hindfoot joints. This is a reconstructive procedure which allows the surgeon to re-position the foot into a normal position. Although the procedure should be
considered for advanced PTTD, it has many complications and should be discussed at length with your doctor.