Flat feet or fallen arches are whereby your feet press flat on the ground when you stand or put pressure on them. If you have fallen arches, your feet point outward when you stand, and the entire sole of your feet is flat on the ground. Flatfeet are painless and usually nothing to worry about. Treatment is usually unnecessary, but when your flatfeet are painful and limit your productivity, an evaluation at Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute may be warranted.
What are the symptoms of flat feet?
Many people with flat feet have no symptoms but some experience foot pain, especially in the heel or arch area, and swelling along the inside of the ankle. The pain associated with flat feet may also worsen with activity. You may also notice that your shoes wear out quickly due to flat feet. See your doctor if your foot pain due to flat feet interferes with your daily activities.
What causes flat feet?
Flat feet have no obvious cause; it might just be how your feet are. However, fallen arches are common in infants and toddlers because their foot’s arch is yet to develop. Many children have flat feet until age six, when the arches form, but some never develop arches. Sometimes children have flexible flatfeet, where the arch is visible when there is no pressure on the feet, like when sitting or standing on tiptoes.
Although flat feet are common in children, they can also be acquired later in life; the arches can collapse after an injury or over many years of wear and tear. When the tendon running along the inside of the ankle weakens or tears, one may develop fallen arches. As the wear and tear become severe, arthritis of the foot may develop. Your risk of flat feet is higher if you are obese; the excess weight on your foot can cause the arch to collapse. Other risk factors for fallen arches include diabetes, old age, rheumatoid arthritis, and injury to the foot or ankle.
What are the treatments for flat feet?
You do not have to do anything about your flat feet if they are not causing you pain. However, if you experience pain and swelling, your healthcare provider may recommend orthotic devices like arch supports; these can help alleviate the pain caused by flatfeet. Arch supports are available over-the-counter but they can also be custom-made to fit the contours of your feet. Your healthcare provider may also recommend stretching exercises, especially if you have a shortened Achilles tendon.
You can also work with a physical therapist; they may guide you through exercises to strengthen your muscles and tendons in the feet. Physical therapy is especially beneficial for runners with flat feet to avoid overuse injuries. Surgery may be an option if your flat feet still cause pain and limits your activities even after trying out conservative treatments. During surgery, the surgeon repairs the tendon and bone causing pain. Surgery is rarely needed for flat feet and is only an option if you have problems with bone, tissue, and muscles and other treatments have not worked.
If you have painful flat feet, book an appointment with your specialist at Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute for treatment to improve your overall quality of life.