Do you have pain or discomfort in your feet or ankles joints? You may have flat feet, a condition that is caused from a collapsed arch. In a normal arch, there’s an upward curve in the middle of your foot which is stabilized by tendons and ligaments in your foot and lower leg. When those tendons become weak, your arch collapses, a condition that can be recognized if the sole of your foot touches the ground completely. Flat feet can cause intense pain in your feet, ankles and lower leg muscles, as well as in your hips and lower back.
The Cause of Flat Feet
In fewer cases, flat feet can develop in childhood when the arch of the foot never forms. But flat feet typically develop in adulthood as a result of too much stress to the foot. This type of stress can be caused by:
- Standing or walking for long periods of time
- Wearing shoes that don’t support your arch properly
- Weakened muscles in the foot, ankles or lower leg due to aging or weight gain
- Injuries to the foot like an ankle sprain
Who Is at Risk for Flat Feet?
While flat feet can develop at birth, more often it occurs when your tendons are stretched or torn, especially in patients who are older, diabetic or obese. Fallen arches can also develop during pregnancy when the excess weight puts your pressure on the feet. It’s common for women to have a larger shoe size after giving birth and losing the weight.
When to See the Doctor
If you suspect you have flat feet, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she can assess your gait and may order X-rays to determine the best treatment options.
Treatment for Flat Feet
If your doctor determines you have flat feet, he or she may recommend the following non-surgical treatments:
- Wearing a brace to help support the fallen arch
- Resting and icing the affected area on the foot
- Physical therapy
- Arch supports
- Weight loss in patients whose flat feet are caused by obesity
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or Aleve
If the above methods do not help, surgery may be required.