Flat feet occur when the arches (insteps) of the feet are either partially or completely collapsed or have fallen. The arch of the foot comes in direct contact with the ground rather than forming a supportive arch in the center of the foot. The arch is an important support mechanism for the entire body as well as the feet, and if it lacks or loses strength and collapses downward, the resulting change in the bony framework of the foot can cause pain and mobility issues.
Having flexible flat feet means the arch appears normal when the foot isn’t bearing weight, only flattening out when you stand. If you have rigid flatfeet, there’s no curvature of the arch regardless of whether you’re standing or not.
Flattened arches create a strain on the joints in the foot that can cause pain, and may affect joints higher up in the body such as the knees, hips, and spine.
Some people with flat feet are born with the condition, but it can also develop as a result of:
- Not using sufficiently supportive footwear
- Acute injury
- Poor foot biomechanics
- Pronation (excessive inward rolling of your feet)
- Musculoskeletal disorders
Children’s feet are flat when they’re born, but normally develop an arch as they mature. If the arch doesn’t develop, your child could experience pain in their back and joints, which the podiatrists at Westchester Foot Care can diagnose and treat.
Some people don’t experience any problems despite having flat feet, and therefore don’t require treatment. If you’re experiencing any symptoms of pain, discomfort, or reduced mobility, you should visit Westchester Foot Care for an assessment.
Exercises to stretch the Achilles tendon can help build up strength in the feet.
In general, conservative treatments are tried first such as:
- Wearing supportive shoes
- Physical therapy
- Custom or prefabricated orthotics
- Losing weight
- Avoiding activities that cause symptoms
- Applying ice packs or cooling gel
- Using anti-inflammatory medication
In some cases, conservative treatment options don’t reduce symptoms sufficiently, in which case surgery may be the best option. Potential procedures that can correct the problems caused by flatfeet include:
- Joint fusions
- Tendon transfers
- Osteotomies (bone cutting)
Our podiatrists can advise you which would be the most suitable approach in your case after reviewing X-rays of your feet and performing a biomechanical exam.
If your flat feet are causing pain or affecting your mobility, call Westchester Foot Care to schedule an appointment today.