Adult flat foot is an acquired foot deformity. It develops when your posterior tibial tendon—a tissue that helps to support your arch—becomes damaged and can no longer hold your arch up, resulting in pain along the bottom of your foot. If adult flat foot isn't treated, you could develop a limp or even have trouble walking, but fortunately, this condition can be treated with orthotics. Here are three things adult flat foot sufferers need to know about orthotics.
1. What types of orthotics are available?
Two main types of orthotics are available: over-the-counter and custom-made. After examining your feet, your podiatrist will let you know which type is best for you. Over-the-counter orthotics may be just as effective as custom-made models, depending on your individual circumstances. However, it's important to see your podiatrist before buying over-the-counter orthotics because the wrong orthotics could negatively affect your gait and cause further foot problems.
Your podiatrist may recommend using a semi-rigid insert or a long arch pad. These inserts provide support for your arch while still allowing flexibility, so you won't have any trouble walking.
If your tendon is damaged enough that your ankle turns inwards or outwards when you stand, your podiatrist may recommend a custom-made inner heel wedge. These inserts tilt your foot in the appropriate direction to straighten the alignment of your ankle, while also supporting your fallen arch.
2. How do orthotics work?
Orthotics work by supporting your fallen arches and restoring the proper alignment of your foot. Since the orthotics hold up the arches, the damaged posterior tibial tendon doesn't need to work as hard, and this lets it heal. This will reduce your symptoms and limit any disability that you're experiencing as a result of your fallen arches.
3. Can orthotics cure adult flat foot?
Orthotics aren't a cure for adult flat foot. If you want a permanent cure for your damaged tendon and sore feet, you'll need to have surgery to repair the tendon. However, wearing orthotics reduces the associated symptoms, and according to Podiatry Today, patients are more satisfied with orthotics than with surgical intervention.
To keep your pain away, you'll need to wear your orthotics indefinitely, but that doesn't mean that your footwear choices will be limited. Your podiatrist can create special orthotics to fit inside sandals, heels, dress shoes, boots and other types of shoes, so you can still the types of shoes you prefer even though you need to wear orthotics.
If you have adult flat foot, make an appointment with a North Hill Foot & Ankle Clinic Podiatrist to discuss orthotic treatment.