They may have been the subject of a hundred old jokes but if you have flat feet it is no laughing matter – especially if you’re a fashion-conscious teenage girl with a love of shoes!
Now a West Midlands surgeon is using a tiny stent which is slotted into place with minimally-invasive surgery to put the arch back into the foot.
For 19-year-ol Remy Tullah, of Coleshill, the 10 -minute operation means she can wear high heels without the normal discomfort – but there can be many further-reaching benefits as the years go by.
Mr Stuart Metcalfe, a podiatric surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, said: “I have spent years studying the issue of flat feet in children. I am only too well aware of the problems they can lead to in joints such as ankle, knee or hip as they are gradually forced out of alignment by the way a person walks. It is a problem that can progress over the years.
“A young person like Remy won’t be suffering too much at the moment but, as she gets older, problems can develop.
“Much of your lower body is shaped by the way you stand and walk – your feet play a very important part in how your body develops – so, in my opinion, early treatment is almost always advisable.”
Remy, a former student at Solihull’s St Martin’s School, is preparing to do an English Literature and Film Studies at Warwick University.
She said: “I have known I had flat feet for years but I kept putting off having something done about them. When I heard they could be treated in just 10 minutes I thought it was silly to leave it any longer.
“The operation was painless and I was walking about normally in just days. I can feel a difference when I run or walk but best of all I can wear whatever shoes I want now without any pain!”
Mr Metcalfe uses an HyProCure™ stent, made of medical titanium. Once in place, between two bones near the ankle, the stent helps realign the structure of the foot which, in turn, means the majority of the body's weight will then be naturally rebalanced.
“It really is all a bit of a balancing act,” he explained. “Once the feet are in the position they should be then the ankles, knees and hips should move into their correct positions. The benefits of this can be less wear and tear on the lower body joints, ligaments and tendons, meaning they function much better for much longer,” he said.
“It’s a bit like putting the “keystone” back in an arched bridge – once it is properly aligned then everything is held in place.
“A lot of young sports enthusiasts may now be doing themselves long-term damage that, with the use of these stents, could be avoided.”
As for Remy, she has already had mum and dad Justine and Tarquin ‘foot’ the bill for a new pair of shoes and is taking now steps to prepare for her up-and-coming degree course.
Remy shows off her ‘new feet’ and some of the shoes she is looking forward to wearing