Although conservative treatments like custom orthotics and physical therapy are highly successful in managing flat feet (also known as fallen arches or pes planus), sometimes, noninvasive methods are not enough to help stabilize the midfoot and alleviate pain. If you're experiencing pain and discomfort from flat feet and can't seem to find relief with conservative remedies, it may be time to consider arch reconstruction. This blog will feature a few factors to watch for that may signal surgery for flat feet is your best option for recovery.
You Feel Pain When Walking
Fallen arches or flat feet fail to provide your feet the adequate support they need, and as a result, you may experience pain or discomfort in the inner ankle and foot when walking or running. Additionally, those with fallen arches place excess pressure on their plantar fascia (ligament along the bottom of the foot), which can stress the muscles and cause additional pain. Although custom orthotics and stretching can help minor pain and mild discomfort, more severe aches may require arch reconstruction surgery or custom bracing. Whether you're experiencing minor or severe pain in your lower limbs, it is essential to discuss your symptoms with your podiatric surgeon to determine the direct cause of your pain and create a treatment plan that will best address the issue.
Your Ankle Swells Often
The additional pressure placed on your feet due to fallen arches can also negatively affect your ankles. If you have flat feet, every step you take strains your plantar fascia, Achilles tendon arch, and ankle joint. Over time, this can lead to pain, discomfort, inflammation, and swelling. If you find that your ankle is swelling or inflamed after walking, running, or regular daily use and conservative measures like custom orthotics and stretching do not help, surgical intervention or custom bracing may offer more lasting relief. If you experience any swelling in the lower limbs, seek an expert opinion as soon as possible.
You Experience Numbness & Tingling
Weight and pressure from untreated flatfeet can strain and compress your nerves, which can cause shooting pain, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation in the lower limbs. Additionally, if you have fallen arches, you are more at risk for developing tarsal tunnel syndrome (TTS) because of the outward tilting of your heel from fallen arches. Walking, running, and improperly managing fallen arches increases the risk of tarsal tunnel syndrome and may worsen existing symptoms. If you have flat feet and are experiencing numbness, tingling, or similar sensations in your lower limbs, talk with your foot and ankle surgeon about a treatment plan.
What To Expect From a Reconstructive Procedure
Surgery for flat feet can be done in several different ways. Flatfoot reconstruction and alignment work to correct bone deformities in the lower limbs, and the surgery works to realign the foot structure so the arch is more stable and efficient.
First, our team will need to examine your lower limbs thoroughly to determine the best way to approach the procedure. Then, we'll use X-rays to get a clearer picture of your lower limb needs and plan out the procedure.
Corrective flatfoot surgery involves making cuts through bones and shifting them into a correct position; sometimes, bone graft and metal hardware are necessary to help maintain position. From there, you may need to have tendons repaired or even moved to support the arch better. If a tight Achilles tendon contributed to the problem, we might recommend lengthening the tendon. Any other deformities that developed as a result of the uneven, abnormal pressure on your foot may also be corrected at this time. Finally, if your flatfoot has become stiff and inflexible or developed arthritis, you may need to have joints fused to correct the problem.
Flatfoot surgery is a big step, but it may be your best option if your feet are stiff, painful, and not responding to conservative treatments. Never wait for your arch issues to keep you from the activities you love. We can help provide relief from the initial noninvasive therapies through the surgical procedure. Call (717) 757-3537 or visit our contact page to schedule an appointment.