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Written by our Canadian Certified Pedorthists

What is Adult Acquired Flatfoot?

Adult Acquired Flatfoot (AAF) describes a variety of foot and ankle conditions resulting in a collapsed arch and an inward ankle position.

What Causes It and How Does it Feel?

A variety of conditions can result in AAF, and symptoms are specific depending on the condition. Outlined below are some conditions and their related symptoms:

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD) can occur when the posterior tibial tendon is damaged through injury or gradual overuse. The posterior tibial tendon’s main function is to support the arch.

  • Symptoms can include pain and inflammation at the inside of the ankle, pain at the outside of the ankle, a flatfoot appearance, and increased discomfort during activity.

Arthritis can occur within the ankle joint leading to inflammation and degeneration.

  • Symptoms can include ankle joint stiffness, pain, swelling, weakness and difficulties with walking.

Injury to ligaments within the foot and ankle can lead to AAF. Damage to the key ligament which connects the heel to the midfoot is a frequent factor in AAF development. Fractures, dislocation and additional ligament injuries can also lead to AAF.

  • Symptoms can include pain at the sight of the injury, a flatfoot appearance, inflammation and swelling.

How we help

1. Supporting the foot and ankle can protect the affected area and help assist mobility. Examples of support are custom foot orthotics, articulating ankle foot orthotics, orthopaedic footwear, footwear modifications or custom orthopaedic footwear.

2. Immobilizing the foot and ankle can encourage healing. In certain AAF conditions this may be necessary over the long term to reduce pain and provide support. Examples of immobilization are total contact casting, removable walking casts or ankle foot orthotics.

3. Stretches and exercises as prescribed by a health care professional may help to improve strength in weakened muscles and promote enhanced coordination of the muscles supporting the foot and ankle joints.

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