Every day when you stand or walk, your feet sustain high amounts of pressure. The arches in your feet allow them to absorb that pressure and manage your body weight as you go about your daily activities. However, pressure can lead to long-term pain and biomechanical issues if not addressed properly for people with flat feet or fallen arches.
Below, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions about flatfoot disorder. Don’t ignore your fallen arches—read on for more information about how to support your feet so that they can better support you!
What is Flatfoot Disorder?
Flatfoot is a progressive disorder characterized by a partial or complete collapse of the arch. This means that the entire sole of your foot touches (or almost touches) the ground when you stand. Because low or fallen arches don’t absorb shock and distribute pressure effectively, people with this disorder have a higher risk of suffering from chronic pain and foot fatigue—specifically in the midfoot and heel.
How Do You Develop Flat Feet?
Flatfoot disorder often runs in families and can be passed down as a hereditary trait, but it can also develop over time from another problem. Injuries and overuse can lead to adult-acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD). This often occurs when the supporting tendons and ligaments holding up you're midfoot are torn or ruptured. Issues with the posterior tibial tendon are a leading cause of flattened arches. Additionally, age, arthritis, illness, and nerve damage can also contribute to this condition.
When Should I Seek Medical Help?
Not all flat feet cause problems. In fact, some people with the condition live their entire lives with minimal discomfort. Others, however, suffer from chronic pain, swelling, and faulty biomechanics. People with flat feet also have a higher likelihood of sustaining overuse injuries, as their lower limbs don’t absorb shock adequately.
Because flatfoot is a progressive condition, studies suggest that neglecting treatment or preventive care can lead to more severe health issues such as arthritis, hammertoes, bunions, ankle and knee instability, and even loss of foot function. Therefore, if you notice that you are experiencing frequent pain in your feet, ankles, knees, and/or lower back, we recommend being examined by a podiatrist so that they can help determine the best treatments to relieve the discomfort and stabilize your feet.
What Are My Treatment Options?
As with most progressive foot conditions, early treatment for flatfoot disorder is your best route for optimal success in relieving symptoms and preventing further damage.
In many cases, flatfoot can be treated with non-surgical approaches, including orthotic devices and physical therapy. In addition, stretches and exercises can help loosen tight tendons that may be contributing to fallen arches and alleviate pain. It’s also beneficial to wear shoes that stabilize and support your arch rather than increase strain. For that reason, we recommend avoiding high heels and flat-soled footwear.
If conservative measures do not produce desired results, surgical interventions may be considered to correct flatfoot and improve functionality.
Remember—foot pain is never normal. If you are experiencing any symptoms of flatfoot disorder impacting the quality of your life, get in touch with us. Our expert podiatrists will examine your feet and suggest a course of treatment so you can stay as healthy, active, and pain-free as possible! Call our main office at (717) 757-3537 or complete our online contact form to schedule an appointment.