If you have flat feet, this means that the arch of your foot is lower than normal and the entire sole is able to touch the floor when standing. Yet, it is important to know that this is a condition that may not affect your quality of life and not every person with flat feet requires surgical treatment in Singapore. However, if you experience swelling, and pain in the foot and ankle among other symptoms, flat foot reconstruction surgery is an option when you are starting to find it difficult to walk.
Common Causes of Flat Feet
The arch of the foot generally helps with shock absorption, distributing body weight evenly and providing stability for walking or running. However, with flat feet, you may make up for this lack of support by increasing your heel strike from step to step.
Also known as pes planus, flat feet can be either an inherited condition or a result of physical injury or illnesses such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. This can cause problems in both children and adults. Flat feet can lead to pain in the legs, back, hips and other parts of the body as well as cause abnormal wear on your shoes or foot deformities like bunions.
In the case of bunions, your doctor may also suggest minimally invasive foot bunion surgery depending on the severity of the bump.
How Flat Foot Surgery is Performed
Depending on the individual, different types of surgery may be performed to treat the flat foot. Flat foot surgery can be done to create an arch, repair tendons, or lengthen the Achilles tendon. Minimally invasive surgeries may also be done to create a natural space between the ankle and the heel bone. In general, flat foot reconstruction is done under general anaesthetic to numb the foot and reduce the pain post-operation. Depending on the surgery, the surgeon might shift the heel bone back to the correct alignment under the leg, remove the damaged tibial tendon and replace it, repair or reconstruct the damaged spring and deltoid ligament, or make incisions and spread the bone apart to recreate an arch. For flat foot reconstruction surgery in Singapore, it will usually require up to four months of recovery before you may transition to wearing shoes, while full recovery can take up to two years. During this time, do note that you will need to follow specific rehabilitation instructions such as going for physical therapy to help ensure a successful outcome.
When is Flat Foot Reconstruction Surgery Necessary?
Many people can live with flat feet without experiencing any pain or discomfort. However, for patients with painful flat feet, having difficulty with daily activities or experiencing pain in the ankle or foot when walking or running is common. Nerves may also be damaged in the foot, causing numbness or a tingling sensation. In such cases seeking the advice of an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist and having the foot evaluated will be necessary. Most flat feet can be treated with non-surgical treatments such as shoe inserts, braces and physical therapy. Should these non-invasive methods be unsuccessful, you may consider surgical intervention through flat foot reconstruction to adequately relieve painful symptoms. Getting flat foot surgery may also be advisable to correct any misalignment or instability in the foot.
Learn More About Flat Foot Treatment in Singapore
With flat foot reconstruction surgery, this treatment may lessen the discomfort in your lower body, provide more stability during activities and reduce the risk of injury to ligaments connecting the joints in your feet and legs. Moving forward, it is crucial to seek the advice of orthopaedic specialists to better understand if a flat foot reconstruction surgery is a suitable treatment for your condition. Book an appointment with foot surgeon Dr Gowreeson for more information today.
Frequently Asked Questions about Flat Foot Reconstruction Surgery
1. How do I know if I am flat-footed?
When the foot arch does not rise high enough and the entire soles touch the floor when weight is put on the foot, this could be an indication of flat feet. The arches of your foot are made up of three different ligaments, one from each side and one from the middle. These ligaments should support the weight on your foot and keep them aligned properly so that it does not hurt to walk or stand for long periods of time. When these ligaments do not work correctly, this can lead to flat feet which can create other problems such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain or even lower back pain.
It is important to note that if you have flat feet but do not experience pain, you may not need to consult a doctor. Learn more about when flat feet may become a problem.
2. How do I know what type of flat feet I have?
There are different types of flat feet including flexible and rigid. A flexible type of flatfoot is the most common type where the arch is visible on both feet when one is not standing. Rigid flatfoot, on the other hand, shows no arches regardless of whether you are sitting or standing. Affecting one or both feet, it can be difficult for people with rigid flatfeet to walk comfortably. Other types of flat feet include adult-acquired flat feet commonly caused by an inflammation or tear in the leg tendon, and vertical talus, which is a birth defect that prevents the natural arches from forming. Your doctor will be able to diagnose which type you have by examining your foot structure and symptoms.
3. How can I improve my foot arch?
Before discussing flat foot reconstruction surgery with your doctor in Singapore, there are some ways to reduce the pain associated with flat feet. For example, there are exercises that can help to strengthen your arches. From heel stretches to arch lifts, these exercises can be done at home with little or no equipment needed.
However, do check with your doctor prior to doing these exercises. Your trusted orthopaedic specialist may also recommend stretches suitable for your individual condition.
4. Do low arches cause overpronation?
Pronation is the natural motion of your foot that occurs when you walk or run. Yet, when the arch on the inside of your foot flattens out, it can cause overpronation. In this case, the heel bone rotates inward and can cause excessive movement in the ankle joint and instability in the knee joint. Flat feet are a major risk factor for overpronation as they lack arches.
People who overpronate are also more likely to have:
- Pain in the foot arch, knee, hip and/or back
- Hammer toes
5. Are fallen arches the same as flat feet?
Yes, flat feet are also sometimes referred to as fallen arches. As flat feet is characterised by an abnormally flattened arch that falls toward the ground from young, fallen arches may be used to describe a flat feet condition – caused by the collapse of the arch on one or both feet – that has developed over time as one ages. When the pain becomes severe, you may wish to consult your orthopaedic doctor for flat foot treatment options, which may include flat foot reconstruction surgery.
6. How long does it take to recover from flat foot reconstruction surgery?
As there are various causes of flat feet, it will determine the reconstruction surgery required to improve the flexibility of your feet. However, it can usually take up to 3 months to heal and regain functionality. After the procedure is performed on your flat foot, rest assured your orthopaedic doctor in Singapore will keep track of your progress and update you on when you can safely resume normal activities.
7. Can flat feet be corrected through surgery?
Yes. Surgery is often recommended after non-surgical treatments are inadequate in improving flexibility and relieving the painful symptoms that come with the condition. Through a flat foot surgery, the foot’s ligaments and tendons will be repaired and any deformities will be restored so that the arch is properly supported.
8. Is flat foot reconstruction worth it?
The adjustments made during a flat foot reconstruction surgery will distribute the weight put on the foot more evenly when walking or standing and also improve the foot’s alignment. This can not only reduce pain but also help patients return to an active life by improving flexibility and strength in the foot.
9. What is the success rate of flat foot surgery?
Flat foot surgery conducted by an experienced surgeon can help minimise the pain and improve the foot’s alignment. However, it is important to note that swelling post-surgery can last for months and those leading active lifestyles will only be able to return to sports and the like up to 12 months after the flat foot surgery. It is best to seek the advice of a medical expert for more information.
Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.