Conservative therapies are always the first option for treatment, particularly for an issue like fallen arches and flat feet. However, sometimes the noninvasive methods are not helpful for stabilizing the midfoot and alleviating the pain. That’s when flatfoot surgery becomes an option.
Why Flat Feet Can Be Problematic
Your arch is an important part of your foot. It helps your body both absorb pressure and distribute body weight evenly through your lower limbs. When it’s too low, however, it’s not able to do this efficiently. Your whole foot is destabilized and you become more prone to painful problems. You’re more susceptible to foot fatigue, midfoot pain, heel pain, and overuse injuries of all kinds. Sometimes it can increase your odds for bunions and toe deformities like hammertoes.
When Flatfoot Surgery Is Actually Needed
Usually conservative therapies are highly successful for managing low or flat arches. Sometimes you’ll need to scale back certain activities—at least temporarily—to allow the pain to heal. Changing shoes, using orthotics, and performing physical therapy exercises, among other methods, are usually enough to stabilize the midfoot and alleviate the fatigue and discomfort.
Occasionally, though, these methods are not enough to eliminate the pain and let you continue your regular activities. Then it may be time to consider reconstructive surgery. There are a few factors to watch for that may signal surgery for flat feet is your best option for recovery. Feet that don’t improve after several months of physical therapy, orthotics, and other noninvasive methods may need a reconstructive procedure. It’s also something to consider if you have continued pain that interrupts your daily life and makes normal tasks more difficult.
What to Expect from a Reconstructive Procedure
Surgery for flat feet can be done several different ways. Reconstruction and alignment works to correct bony deformities and realign the foot structure so the arch is more stable and efficient. Dr. Kennedy will need to examine your lower limbs thoroughly to determine the best way to approach the procedure. We’ll use X-rays and weightbearing CT scans to get a clearer picture of your lower limb needs and plan out the procedure.
Usually the flatfoot surgery involves making several cuts in the heel bone and shifting it into a more correct position. Sometimes the tarsals will need to be cut and realigned as well. The bones will then be held in place with pins and screws. 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, it may be lengthened. Any other deformities that developed as a result of the uneven, abnormal pressure on your foot may be corrected at this time as well. 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 if your feet are stiff, painful, and not responding to normal treatments, it may be your best option. Don’t wait for your arch issues to keep you from the activities you love.