HealthWatch: New Treatment For Flat Feet

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Flat feet or fallen arches is an extremely common condition. As many as one in four Americans has the condition. Dr. Max Gomez reports on a new minimally-invasive surgical procedure to treat the condition.

While most folks don’t think of it as a serious problem, they can lead to knee pain, shin splints, achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis among other things.

In fact, flat feet used to be enough to get you out of the army.

Normally you wouldn’t think a 13-year-old would have much of a problem with her feet, certainly not something that might call for surgery, but Katherine Rufli had a problem that was giving her a lot of trouble.

“I didn’t have an arch in my foot and sometmes it would hurt my foot and I’d have trouble running and my feet would go inward and it was annoying and it didn’t look good or anything,” she said.

An x-ray of one of Katherine’s feet reveals not only not much of an arch, but also how it led to an even bigger problem of an inward turning of her ankles, called overpronation.

“You end up getting arthritis not just in the foot and in all of the joints of the foot but also arthritis of the ankle, the knee, the hip, the back, people end up with tremendous pain and disabilities because they have a lot of difficulty walking,” said Dr. Seema Ramcharitar-Amante.

Now that doesn’t happen to everyone with flat feet, and orthotics or arch supports can ease the problem for many folks, but when you have this sort of serious over pronation and painful flat feet, chances are you’re going to develop long term problems.

Now there’s a minimally invasive surgical procedure that can help. “There’s a natural hole between that ankle bone and the heel bone that if you can restore that space, you can stop that ankle bone from falling down and bringing with it all those bones and prevent that hyper-mobility,” Amante said.

The insert would go in the bones of the ankle, inserted through a tiny incision on the side of the foot.

After surgery, Katherine’s arch was restored. She had it done on both feet. “They don’t hurt anymore. I can do more sports now and I dont like trip over my feet anymore.”

Dr. Ramcharitar-Amante said the ideal candidate for this procedure is actually a young person who has a severe flat foot but still has a flexible foot, because the longer a person goes with an overpronated foot, the more likely they are to develop arthritis that eventually can fuse or severely limit the ankle’s mobility.

There are different sizes for the insert and it can be easily removed if for some reason there’s a complication.

More from Dr. Max Gomez
  • yeng vang

    can you give me more information. i know i have flat feet but lately it has just been so bad to the point where i can barely walk after a day of work and not just that the pressure point on my ankles hurts so bad that even when my boyfriend tries to rub it, the moment he touches it i feel a sharp pain.

  • hypnoj

    weight is more of an issue then age with this implant. teenagers just respond better to it, but I’ve seen older adults still do will.

  • steph

    how do i learn more? my sons feet are worse than the girl in the video

  • Sydelle Houston

    I blame Payless and those cheap shoes people buy that have no arch support! I have one foot like that after surgery to fix plantar fasciitis. When I step on the bath mat, I can see how flat that foot is compared to the other one. I wear custom orthotics however, I change them around so my feet don’t hurt; the custom orthotics hurt if I wear them more than 3 days in a row. I use cushion insoles, heel cups, Dr. Scholl’s Gel insoles and I massage both feet daily to keep my bone spurs from giving me grief….

  • flash gordon

    I think that flat feet become more common in recent years have a lot to do with young people wear flip-flop and sandals all the time. This type of “shoes” do not give you feet any support at all. If you are developing ankle pain due to flat feet, stop wearing sandals and flops. A good pair of sneakers will help to reduce your pain along with ankle support.

  • flash gordon

    I have flat feet and only recently in my 60’s one of the foot gave me ankle problem. Prior to that, I was all state in my high school basketball team and never had any issues about my feet. If you don’t serious ankle problem, you can use ankle support. This support essentially cured my ankle problem due to flat feet. I still wear it when I leave the house but take off when I get home. Works like charm! I have tried arch support in my shoes and they made it worse and hurt my arch in addition to my ankle. Try the ankle support first before any surgery. Don’t get the drug store variety. The brand I bought is Wellgate from Amazon.

  • Casia

    so are they saying this surgery wouldn’t work for a 40-year old?

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live