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A healthy foot should have an arch that reveals a gap between the sole of the shoe and the center of the foot, known as the arch. When someone has flat feet or fallen arches, there is little to no gap visible. In other words, the bottom of the foot completely, or nearly completely, lies flat. This might not seem like a big deal, but flat feet can cause pain in several areas of the body, that will progress with time if left untreated. Keep reading to learn more about flat feet, how they can affect the body, and how to correct them.
What Is Flat Foot?
Arches of the feet act somewhat like a spring to distribute weight and pressure across the feet to keep the joints, bones, and ligaments in the feet from being over-stressed. When the arches are not present, the feet can become sore or injured as certain bones, joints, or ligaments undergo unnecessary stress.
Symptoms of Flat Feet
The most obvious and common symptom of flat feet is pain in the feet. This is caused by strained muscles and connective ligaments. Flat feet can also cause pain in the arches, calves, knees, hips, lower back, and legs. Stiffness in one or both of the feet is also common.
Flat feet can be caused by several factors, including:
- Weak arches
- Foot and/or ankle injuries
- Tendon damage
- A disease of the nervous system or muscles
Home Treatment for Flat Foot
Several exercises help with flat feet. They are usually prescribed by a specialist but can be done at home at any time.
Heel cord stretching involves standing facing a wall and placing one hand against the wall at eye level. Next, place the leg that needs to be stretched one step further behind you than the other foot. You should then plant your backmost heel firmly on the ground and bend the knee of your straight leg until your back leg begins to stretch. Hold this position for ninety seconds and repeat the stretch nine times. You can do this stretch two to three times throughout the day.
Another simple exercise requires a golf ball and a chair. All you have to do is sit on the chair, place the golf ball under the foot, and roll your foot forwards and backward for two minutes.
If your flat feet are causing you pain or discomfort, a specialist may be able to help. The most commonly prescribed treatment is custom orthotics. Since everyone’s condition can be slightly different, orthotics can be made to fit the patient’s needs and the shape and size of his or her arches. Orthotics can be placed in the shoes and should be worn every day.
In some cases, the conditions or symptoms caused by flat feet can worsen over time if left unattended. Flat feet can cause pain in other parts of the body. If you are experiencing pain due to flat feet, you should get help from a specialist.
Surgical correction for flat foot deformity can help reconstruct the arch, but is evaluated on a case by case basis, as the complexity of the deformity needs to be met by strict surgical criteria. Surgical treatment of flat foot deformity in children can often be performed using a minimally invasive technique, wherein a metallic implant is inserted temporarily for a certain number of years into the patient’s foot to help realign position while the bones and growth plates are maturing.
Are your flat feet causing your pain or discomfort? Diablo Foot and Ankle can help. Call today to schedule an appointment. Our specialists have plenty of experience treating foot issues.