Flatfoot, also known as flat feet or fallen arches, occurs when there is either a very low arch in the foot or the arch is nonexistent. People can be born with flat feet or the condition can develop over time. Factors such as aging, being overweight, having a disease such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis, or injuring the tendons of the foot can all contribute to the development of flat feet.
Types of Flatfoot
There are several forms of flatfoot or fallen arches. For example:
- Tarsal coalition. Known as peroneal spastic flatfoot, tarsal coalition is a rare, inherited condition where two or more of the bones of the foot are fused together. This causes problems with foot flexibility and eliminates the natural arch in the foot.
- Adult-acquired flatfoot. This condition is common and happens in adults. It is caused by the overstretching of the tendon that supports the foot arch.
- Flexible flatfoot. This common condition occurs when the foot remains flat while standing but returns to a normal arch when sitting or at rest.
- Progressive flatfoot. This condition occurs over time and happens when the foot arch begins to collapse inward and eventually flattens out. This can be caused by overuse or injury to the foot tendon.
Depending on the type of flatfoot you have, there are different symptoms you may experience such as:
- Feet that touch the floor with no visible arch
- Feet that turn outward while the ankle turns inward
- Deformity of the foot
- Pain or discomfort inside your ankles or feet
- Pain while walking or standing
- Strained posture
- Pain in the lower back and hips
If you are experiencing pain, it is best to contact your podiatrist. They will be able to examine your feet to determine the cause of your discomfort. They may order an imaging test such as an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment options depend on the severity and cause of your flat feet. Consult with your podiatrist to create a custom treatment plan based on your needs.
Some common treatments for fallen arches include:
- Rest. Modifying your daily activities and avoiding activities that cause pain in your feet is important. If your issue is caused by an injured tendon, it will need time to heal.
- Ice. If you're experiencing pain and swelling, using ice on the inflamed area can help.
- Support. A custom or over-the-counter orthotic can be worn inside your shoe to provide additional arch support. This can help reduce pressure and discomfort in the foot.
- Shoes. Wearing shoes that give support and stability in the midfoot area is recommended.
- Stretching. Physical therapy such as stretching the area of the foot where the tendon is injured can help with pain and improve the foot’s range of motion.
- Medication. Medication such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be used to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Surgery. If none of the treatment options work, surgery may be required to improve the function of the foot and reduce pain. Surgery can be done to repair the damaged tendons or to fuse the bones of the foot together.
Contact Us for Help
If you are experiencing flat feet or fallen arches, Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help. Our office can offer a free initial consultation and can help create a customized plan to address your pain and get you back on your feet as soon as possible. To set up an appointment, fill out our convenient contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.