Foot arches play an important role in healthy foot and ankle biomechanics. A healthy arch will act as a sort of spring or shock absorber for the foot. It gently flexes to cushion your weight over a longer period of time with easy step, reducing stress and strain on bones, joints, and soft tissues. It also assists with weight transfer and releases energy during push-off to help you walk and run more efficiently.
It’s not surprising, then, that flat feet—whether caused by genetic inheritance or a gradual collapse of the support structure over time—can lead to other problems. Feet may tire and ache quickly. Swelling is often present in the heels, arches, and ankles. Secondary complications like bunions, hammertoes, and heel pain are also much more likely to occur if you have flat feet.
So, if you have a flat foot should you seek treatment? And what will that treatment look like. The answers to those questions depend on a number of different factors.
We’ll start small. Let’s say you have flat arches, but no other symptoms. You’re not experiencing any pain. You’re able to live the lifestyle you want without any obvious restrictions. You haven’t noticed any secondary problems. This situation is more common than you might think! If your flat feet aren’t causing any problems, you probably don’t need treatment. It would still be wise to come in for an evaluation, but comfy shoes and regular observation at home may be all you really need.
Symptomatic flatfoot, however, should always be cause for concern. Because the nature of flatfoot is often progressive (that is, it slowly gets worse over time), you’re much better off seeking treatment as early as possible once symptoms emerge. That way, conservative treatments are more likely to be successful. Such strategies to address the problem and/or alleviate or accommodate symptoms may include:
- Arch supports
- Custom orthotics
- Stretching exercises
- Switching shoes
- Rest and ice
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Activity modification (especially switching to low-impact exercise)
If these or other conservative treatments relieve pain and allow you to live your desired lifestyle, there’s usually no need to go further. However, if pain or limited mobility continue to persist, surgical reconstruction may be necessary. Each case is different, and there are a number of potential procedures that may be selected depending on the cause, nature, and severity of your flat feet. Your surgeon will carefully review your situation and make a recommendation. We pride ourselves on taking as much time as needed to answer your questions, address your concerns, and educate you on your responsibilities for care so that you can feel confident with the procedure.
If flat feet are limiting your life, please don’t wait for the situation to become unbearable. Instead, call the Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida. Give us a call today at (407) 339-7759, or if you’re calling from Lake County, (352) 589-9550.