If you or your child have flat feet, you may feel embarrassed or worried the condition will cause health problems. We have good news. About one in four Americans have flat feet, and in many cases, they don’t cause any problems.
But for some people, flat feet can lead to difficulty standing and walking, foot pain, hip pain, and more. Sometimes surgery is required to correct the underlying issue. But how do you know if surgery is the right option for you?
At New Canaan Podiatry, board-certified podiatrist Jennifer Tauber, DPM, treats men, women, and children in New Canaan, Connecticut, who are struggling with flat feet. From diagnosing the condition to providing corrective treatment, Dr. Tauber works with you to help your feet feel their best.
While conservative measures are the starting point for treating complications due to flat feet, some people require surgery. Read on to learn when you might need surgery for your flat feet!
What are flat feet?
When people don’t have an arch at the bottom of their feet or if the arch is very low, they have a condition called flat feet, or pes planus. The condition typically begins in childhood when your foot’s arch naturally develops.
Other times, flat feet develop in adulthood, either due to weight, the wear-and-tear that comes with aging, or because of injury. When flat feet develop in adulthood the condition is called an adult-acquired flatfoot.
Flat feet acquired in adulthood can cause foot pain and other complications. Most people who developed flat feet as children have fewer issues as they have compensated for the condition through child and adulthood.
What problems do flat feet cause?
The arches in your feet play an important role in the health of your feet and your entire body. They provide shock absorption as your walk or move, help distribute your weight through your feet and legs, and help determine your gait.
With flat feet, your body has less support from the ground up. This can lead to significant health problems, including:
- Overpronation (foot rolls inward)
- Achilles tendonitis
- Arthritis in the feet
- Arthritis in the ankles
- Plantar fasciitis
- Posterior tibial tendonitis
- Shin splints
Since flat feet can also change your body’s alignment when you're standing or moving, they also increase your risk of developing pain in your hips, knees, and ankles.
When is surgery required for flat feet?
Surgery is a last resort when treating flat feet and usually depends on the cause of your condition or the severity of related issues. Dr. Taub examines your feet and may order imaging tests to determine the root cause of your flat feet.
Most of the time, flat feet can be treated with custom orthotics with arch supports, well-fitting footwear, and physical therapy. If you don’t respond to conservative treatment methods, however, Dr. Taub may recommend flat foot reconstructive surgery.
While every case is unique, surgery is most often appropriate in patients with:
- Flat feet diagnosed by X-ray
- Lack of response to conservative methods
- Consistent orthopedic pain
- Loss of ability to carry out regular activities due to flat feet
- Torn or ruptured tendons
If Dr. Taub recommends surgery, rest assured knowing flat foot reconstructive surgery can restore your mobility and give you back functional feet. Studies demonstrate the surgery has a very high rate of success and carries little risks.
If you or your child have flat feet and you’re concerned about treatment or surgery, Dr. Taub can help. Contact New Canaan Podiatry to book an appointment today!