Fortunately, you don’t have to let flat feet keep you away from your favorite activities or relegate you to a life of aches and pains. Let’s examine the phenomenon of flat feet, from their causes and effects to the many options you have for managing the condition.
Causes and Effects of Flat Feet
To understand flat feet, we must first look at a normal foot motion known as pronation. Every time you step down on one of your feet, that foot rolls inward slightly. Some feet, however, take this motion to extremes, with the foot rolling inward until you’re essentially standing on your arch instead of letting the arch distribute your body weight as it should. People with flat feet commonly suffer from over-pronation.
Why would your feet “go flat” in the first place? Some people have simply inherited weak arches as a family trait. Others develop flat feet due to muscle disorders, arthritis of the feet, or weakness in the posterior tibial tendon (which attaches the inside of the foot to the calf muscles). Other causes may include a neurological dysfunction or an abnormal bone fusion in the feet called tarsal coalition. Conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity can aggravate flat feet.
Symptoms and Complications
Flat feet affect different people in different ways. In infants who appear to be born with flat feet, the condition often reverses itself completely as the feet continue to develop. But flat feet that plague you throughout adulthood can cause some upsetting symptoms and complications. You may experience chronic aches and pains in your arches or heels, and you may find that your feet get tired usually quickly.
Some motions, such as standing on your toes, may feel particularly agonizing.
Flat feet alter your posture, stance, gait, and overall weight distribution. As a result, you can develop complications in other parts of your musculoskeletal system, not just your feet. You may struggle with chronic ankle pain, frequent ankle or knee injuries, or a painful stiffness in the heel called Achilles tendinopathy. Your shoes may even wear unevenly, worsening your musculoskeletal imbalances.
Treatment Techniques to Restore Arch Support and Comfort
Even if your flat feet have become a permanent condition, you can still find ways to compensate for them and live a comfortable, functional life. Our experienced Clifton NJ podiatrist, Dr. Velimir Petkov, will examine your feet, posture, medical/family history, and general health to understand why your flat feet occurred and how they are affecting you.
X-rays, ultrasound, 3D gait analysis, and other diagnostic techniques can reveal specific abnormalities, tissue inflammation, or alignment errors that contribute to your symptoms. From there, we can recommend right the treatment or mix of treatments to ease your suffering, including:
Orthotic insoles – Customized orthotic insoles provide the perfect amount of arch support to keep you balanced and relieve foot pain.
Exercises – Gentle stretching exercises can help loosen tight tendons that contribute to chronic pain and fatigue.
Injected medications – Injections of substances such as corticosteroids can ease stubborn arch pain for months at a time.
Surgery – If an acute tendon rupture or congenital deformity has left you with severe flat foot pain, surgery might be recommended as a means of permanently creating or restoring your arches.
Don’t let fallen arches leave you feeling low. Contact our Clifton, New Jersey podiatry so we can add a welcome lift to your life!
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