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Making Strides: A Busy Restaurateur Confronts Her Flat Foot

In June 2004, Zarela Martinez suffered a fracture in the tibia and the fibula of her right leg as well as a torn ACL.

“I had treatment for my knee, but by putting all the pressure on my left foot to compensate, one day it just turned totally, and I couldn’t walk,” recalls Ms. Martinez. A restaurateur whose demanding life includes managing her Manhattan restaurant and promoting her own line of products, Ms. Martinez could ill afford the disability.

“Ms. Martinez had a complex foot and ankle problem that affected her posterior tibial tendon – the soft tissue that supports the arch,” explains Andrew J. Elliott, MD, one of eight orthopedic surgeons with the Hospital’s Foot and Ankle Service. “She developed a flat foot with severe pain.”

The degenerative process of tendonosis can affect not only the posterior tibial tendon, but also any of the other tendons that support the foot and ankle. “Physical therapy is usually the first line of defense,” continues Dr. Elliott. “While this may not heal the problem, it can provide the patient with relief of their discomfort and return them to an acceptable level of functioning.”

When the problem begins to interfere with normal activities, however, surgery may be needed to either reconstruct the tendon or to remove the diseased portion. With this in mind, Dr. Elliott performed reconstructive surgery to provide Ms. Martinez with a more normal functioning foot that would enable her to return to her very active life.