Something that we see a LOT around here at Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery is flat feet. Often times, people don’t even know that they have flat feet – what they do know, however, is that they have pain. Flat feet can not only cause pain in the foot and ankle, but also leg, knee, hip, and back pain – this is because having a flat arch throws your legs “out of alignment”, so to speak.
Having flat feet (which is when the arches on the inside of your feet are flattened, allowing the entirety of the sole to touch the floor when standing) is a relatively common condition, and can occur because arches didn’t develop properly during childhood, due to an injury, or from age and wear-and-tear.
What do we mean when we say that the arches “didn’t develop properly during childhood”? Well, for infants and toddlers, flat feet is completely normal because, at that age, their arches haven’t yet developed. As we grow up our arches form; however, for some people, this never happens.
Arches can also fall over time. This means that over the years, day-to-day wear and tear can weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch. Other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing flat feet are: obesity; rheumatoid arthritis; injury to the foot and/or ankle; aging; and, diabetes.
If your feet are causing you a fair amount of pain or discomfort, it’s probably time to see an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in disorders of the foot and ankle. A foot and ankle specialist will be about to evaluate your feet and ankles to get to the bottom of the issue. If flat feet are found to be the cause of your pain, there are a variety of treatments that can be very helpful. Some of these treatments would be:
Arch supports (orthotic devices) – Arch supports (otherwise known as orthotics) are custom designed and are molded to the specific contours of your feet. While it’s true that orthotics won’t “cure” your flat feet, the can help reduce symptoms significantly.
Stretching exercises – Some individuals with flat feet also have a shortened Achilles tendon. Exercises to stretch this tendon may help.
Supportive shoes – A structurally supportive shoe might be more comfortable than something like sandals, flip-flops, or other shoes that only provide minimal support.
Weight loss – Even though no one likes to be told that they need to lose weight, shedding a few unwanted pounds can greatly reduce stress on your feet.
If foot and ankle pain is something that you’ve been struggling with, please know that there are treatments available – Dr. Krejci here at Prairie Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery specializes in treating disorders of the foot and ankle and would be happy to see you! Give us a call today to set up an appointment.
source: aaos.org; webmd.com; mayoclinic.org