Flat feet is a common condition affecting more than 3 million people each year. Flat feet can be found in people of all ages, even toddlers, and can be caused over time. Years of wear and tear to the tendons along the ankle and arch can cause flat feet.
What Are Flat Feet?
Flat feet occur when the arches on the inside of your feet are flat and the entire soles of your feet touch the floor when you stand up. Flat feet is usually a painless condition. It can occur in childhood when the feet don’t develop properly. Other times, it can result from an injury or stress to the foot. In some cases, there are flat foot pain-causing issues with walking and sports.
How to Test for Flat Feet?
There are many different ways to test for flat feet. The easiest and most common approach is an x-ray of the foot. An x-ray will produce images of the bones and joints in the feet. X-rays are useful in detecting arthritis.
A CT scan is another, more defined method to test for flat feet. A CT Scan takes images from different angles and provides a more detailed look at the feet.
Lastly, a doctor may recommend an ultrasound of the feet. An ultrasound is most common if the doctor suspects an injured tendon. The ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of the feet.
Three Treatments for Flat Feet
There are three treatments most commonly used for flat feet. A doctor may prescribe a combination of all three. None of the treatments is invasive and most can be done with minimal cost.
The first standard treatment is arch supports that are molded to the contours of your feet. Arch supports will not cure flat feet but do reduce the pain. Arch supports can be purchased over the counter at local drug stores. If your doctor recommends custom supports, he or she will provide a list of providers.
Another treatment for flat feet is stretching exercises. A shortened Achilles’ tendon causes some flat feet and stretching this tendon may help. The most common stretch is heel stretches, in which a person stands with one foot out from another, with feet flat on the floor, and slightly bends the knee, putting pressure on the foot out front. Bends shouldn’t be deep like a lunge and should be held for at least four seconds.
Another common stretch is arch lifts. The patient stands with the feet shoulder length apart, then rolls the weight to the outer rim of the feet and holds. Next, the patient transfers the weight to the inside of the foot and holds it again. This stretch can be repeated 10-15 times.
Tennis ball rolls are an excellent stretch for flat feet. Here, the patient sits down and rolls a tennis ball front to back on the foot for a minute at a time on each foot.
Other stretches may include toe raises, calf stretches, and towel curls, where the patient scrunches a towel with the toes while keeping heels on the ground.
Supportive shoes may also provide relief from flat feet. These shoes are designed to provide support in the arches.
When to Get Treatment for Flat Feet
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your feet and believe it is related to flat feet, see a doctor for testing and diagnosis. After testing and diagnosis, the doctor will provide the best treatments for you.
For more information about flat feet or to make an appointment, call or visit Diablo Foot and Ankle.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.