When we think of noteworthy arches, our minds might wander toward the St. Louis Arch, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, or even the golden arches if it’s around lunchtime. The arches that have the biggest influence on our day-to-day lives, however, are most likely the ones formed by our feet. A normal arch helps properly distribute forces through the feet while standing and moving. When the arch has dropped, as in the case of flatfoot, it represents a potentially painful imbalance of your foot structure.
Flat feet can be observed at just about any age. We are typically born with flat feet, and our arches develop as we grow and begin to walk. While flatfoot can sometimes be a problem in children, we are going to concentrate here on flatness that develops after maturity, also known as adult-acquired flatfoot.
There are several different causes of a flattening arch in adults. The most common of these culprits is a deterioration of the posterior tibial tendon. This tendon starts in the calf and travels down the lower leg, connecting to bones on the inside of the foot. It is an essential part of supporting the arch, so any weakness caused by tearing or inflammation can cause the arch to slowly fall over time.
Other potential causes of flatfoot include arthritis, injury, and as a complication of diabetes. All of these conditions can weaken, deteriorate, or deform the foot structure in such a way that the arch collapses.
Those who are obese, have high blood pressure, and are involved in high impact sports are all more likely to develop problems from flat feet. Women over the age of 40 are statistically more likely to suffer as well.
Pain along the ankle or rear of the foot tend to be the first noticeable symptoms of flat arches. Over time, the structure of the foot can progressively deform. The heel might shift so it no longer falls aligned beneath the rest of the leg, the front of the foot might rotate, or the ankle joint might shift. Later on, pain might move toward the outer side of the foot as the heel shifts outward.
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Treatment for flat feet greatly depends upon what kinds of symptoms a patient is experiencing, their severity, and the presence of other conditions such as diabetes or arthritis. Surgery is often not an immediate option, and conservative methods exist that can help manage pain and other symptoms.
The use of custom-made orthotics or braces can help realign the structure of the foot and keep excess stress off of painful areas. Physical therapy can also be useful in strengthening and conditioning the muscles and soft tissues around the arch to better support the arch. The earlier these forms of treatments are implemented, the better future results tend to be.
In more severe cases, surgery might be considered. A number of potential procedures are possible and we would discuss these options fully with you.
You or a loved one do not have to suffer the pain of flatfoot as a part of life. Let Dr. Timothy Barry and the staff of Family Foot & Ankle Care of Jasper get to the source of your discomfort and provide effective methods of treating it. Call us today at (812) 481-7200 to schedule an appointment and take the first steps toward better-feeling feet.