Tibial tendon dysfunction – better known as flat foot – is a common condition that is recognized by either no arch or a very low arch, and is often caused by overpronating or rolling the feet inward whilst running, walking or standing. Flat foot is also common in infants. A question often asked of podiatrists is whether one is born with flat feet or is it a developmental issue. The answer to both questions is “yes.” Here’s why.
Being Born with Flat Feet
Typically, babies are born with flat feet. This condition, called “flexible flatfoot” begins to disappear when the child starts to stand and becomes mobile. In most cases, children outgrow this disorder without need for treatment, usually by the age six, as they start to naturally develop an arch. Approximately two in every ten children will continue to have flat feet into adulthood.
“Rigid flat foot” is the result of either a birth defect or from an abnormal connection between foot bones (tarsal coalition). This condition can be painful, causing tendon spasms, difficulty moving the foot up and down or side to side, and an inability to perform activities like running and jumping. Left untreated, rigid flat foot can lead to arthritis as well as excessive pressure on other parts of the foot.
Developing Flat Feet
Flat feet can sometimes result from tightness of the Achilles tendon (the strong fibrous cord that connects the calf muscles in the back of the leg to the back of the heel bone), which can limit the motion of the foot. Treatments include physical therapy to stretch and lengthen the tendon.
Those who have suffered other sorts of injuries may develop flat foot, for example, wearing shoes without sufficient support or going barefoot. Carrying excessive weight can also cause arches to fall; instances include being overweight or obese, or during pregnancy.
When one fails to seek treatment for flat food, expect the condition to worsen with time. Treatments include managing the swelling with anti-inflammatories as well as casting until the tendon heals. A course of physical therapy can help regain range of motion and strengthen the foot; your podiatrist may recommend orthopedic shoes or fit you for custom-made orthotic inserts to provide support for your arches and alleviate stress on other parts of your body.
In children, treatments can include arch supports, bracing, casting, anti-inflammatory medication and physical therapy; surgery may also be recommended to treat more extreme cases. It is important to seek advice from a pediatric podiatrist if you think your child may have be flat footed.
Family Foot Care in South Texas
At The Podiatry Group of South Texas, our team of expert staff and providers specialize in all conditions related to foot and ankle care, to include flat foot. If you or a family member is experiencing foot pain or injury, reach out to us today. With locations throughout greater San Antonio, there is a podiatrist ready to help you put your best foot forward. Call the location nearest you or use our online form to request an appointment today.