Flatfoot is a condition when either one or both feet have little or no visible arch, and it can affect children and adults. If a person’s feet have always been flat, generally there is no problem, and the person may not experience pain or other symptoms. When flatfoot develops due to the collapse of the foot arch over time, this is not normal and can cause a problem that requires treatment by an experienced podiatrist.
Causes of Flatfoot and Collapsed Arches
It is common for people to be born with feet that have little or no arch, making many cases of flatfoot genetic in nature. When there is a severe injury or trauma to the foot, the arch of that foot can fall or collapse. However, there are other causes of flatfoot or a collapsed arch, including:
- Health conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis
- Stretched tendons
- Torn tendons
- Inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon
- Broken bones
- Nerve problems
Risk Factors That Can Increase the Likelihood of a Collapsed Arch
- Being overweight or obese
- Being of an advanced age
- Becoming pregnant
- Having a condition such as diabetes
Common Symptoms of Flatfoot
Many people who have flatfoot have no signs of a problem and may not require treatment. Others with the condition may experience pain in their feet, back, and legs, as well as the following symptoms:
- Tired and achy feet
- Pain in the arches and heels of the feet
- Pain when walking or standing
- Pain due to swelling inside the bottoms of the feet
- Difficulty standing on the toes
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
If a person has signs of flatfoot or a collapsed arch, it’s important to consult with a podiatrist. A podiatrist can examine a patient’s feet, review the patient’s health history to determine if an injury or illness contributed to the condition, and evaluate the patient’s arches by asking them to sit, stand, and walk. They may also test the strength of the muscles and tendons in the patient’s feet and legs and order imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis.
Possible Conservative Treatment Options
- Rest. Resting can give your feet time to heal and provide relief from pain and discomfort. Elevate your feet when resting to reduce swelling.
- Ice. Using ice on the inflamed area of the foot can help relieve pain and swelling.
- Custom orthotic. A custom orthotic can be worn inside the shoe to provide arch support and reduce pain and discomfort.
- Stretching exercises. Exercises that stretch the Achilles tendon can help reduce pain and increase the range of motion in the foot. Physical therapy may also be prescribed to strengthen the posterior tibial tendon and muscle.
- Low-impact activity. Switching to a lower-impact activity such as swimming can give feet a break from strenuous, high-impact activities such as running.
- Pain relief medication. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Medications such as corticosteroids can also be injected into the foot to reduce inflammation.
- Footwear. If you have flatfoot, it is important to choose shoes that support the arch and can provide comfort to help prevent feet from becoming achy and tired.
If conservative treatment options do not provide relief of flatfoot symptoms, surgery may be necessary to correct a foot deformity or perform a tendon transfer.
Are You Looking for a Foot Care Specialist in Austin, TX?
If you are looking for foot care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online or call our Austin office at 512.328.8900.