Flat feet is a fairly self-explanatory condition – it describes the lack of natural arch in the foot, which means the entire bottom of each foot touches the floor when standing. This problem is relatively common and often harmless, although treatment options are available to people who experience pain as a result of flat feet.
What causes flat feet?
Everyone has flat feet when they are born. An arch will gradually develop during childhood for most people, but this isn’t always the case. In other instances, adults can lose the arch in their feet due to everyday wear and tear, a degenerative tendon tear, arthritis, leg length inequality, and even pregnancy. When an adult develops flat feet, it is often referred to as a “fallen arch.”
Many people with flat feet don’t have symptoms and never require treatment. Still, others may experience pain around the heel or the middle portion of the foot that worsens with activity. Flat feet may also throw off leg alignment, which can lead to issues with the hips, lower back, knees, and ankles.
How are flat feet treated?
Flat feet treatment typically focuses on relieving symptoms rather than correcting the shape of the feet. An over-the-counter pain reliever is often sufficient in reducing pain and improving mobility. For others, additional conservative measures may be suggested, including:
- Orthotic supports – These specially designed shoe inserts gradually change the structure of the feet over the course of several weeks or months.
- Foot exercises – Sometimes called “foot gymnastics,” simple exercises like picking up marbles with your toes can help strengthen the intrinsic muscles in your feet.
- Massage therapy – Therapeutic foot massages may help relieve pain and improve flexibility in your feet.
There are also several surgical approaches that may be taken based on the patient’s symptoms and lifestyle. In adults with acquired flat feet, a surgeon may adjust the tendons and joints to promote proper foot alignment. Because flat feet may be progressive, early surgery may be considered even before symptoms become severe. This is why early evaluation is beneficial in all cases of flat feet.
If you’d like to consult with a reputable orthopedic physician about your flat feet treatment options, consider visiting Orthopaedic Specialists. Our clinics are staffed by board-certified pedorthotists who are experts in orthotics and shoes
Our board-certified physicians bring world-class musculoskeletal care to communities throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Region. To learn more, contact us today.