There are more than 3 million cases of flat foot (also called flatfoot) each year in the United States. In fact, flexible flatfoot (FFF) is one of the most common skeletal disorders in children.
While the condition may be notoriously known for its association with young men getting out of the draft back in the day, it’s a deformity with varying degrees of physical impact.
The arch of the human foot is designed to support the weight of the body by evenly distributing weight across the entire foot. Flatfoot occurs when the arch does not perform properly and allows excess movement among the bones of the rear foot. People with flat feet have a very low arch or no arch, meaning that, when they stand, one or both of their feet may be fully flat on the ground. The condition can occur during childhood if the arches of the feet don’t develop appropriately, or after a traumatic injury, or even from the wear and tear of everyday aging.
Paul Betschart, DPM, has seen hundreds of cases during his career and can help ease individuals who may be suffering from this condition..
“While there are also some traumatic variances of flat feet due to tendon ruptures and such, it stems mostly from hypermobility of certain joints in the back part of the foot that caused the foot to roll inward and that’s what gives the appearance of the flat foot,” Dr. Betschart says. “Some people may have an arch when they’re sitting there, but when they stand up, the foot collapses to the inside.”
While there is no cure, Dr. Betschart can help people function better with this condition. Treating the foot early can also prevent other conditions from arising down the line, such as tendonitis, joint pain, and plantar fasciitis.
A custom foot orthotic typically worn in a regular street shoe, is what he most recommends for the initial treatment of flatfoot. These orthotics, which are custom molded to the user’s feet, are used to control the abnormal mechanics of the foot. If that doesn’t do the trick, then bracing the foot to the ankle with an ankle-foot-orthotic can be effective.
There’s also a surgical procedure, if the patient elects, that can internally stabilize the rear foot joints. This is called the Arthroereisis procedure. Dr. Betschart also utilizes a device called HyProCure, a medical-grade titanium stent that is placed within the space between the ankle bone and the heel bone that will stabilize the joint. This basically serves as an orthotic on the inside of the foot instead of the shoe.
“It’s a minimally invasive procedure, with a small incision on the side of the foot and can be done under local anesthetic and it’s good for children and adults,” he says. “It’s something a lot of people don’t offer, which makes us a little unique.”