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Care for your feet.

The Best Ways To Address Fallen Arches

Overview

Acquired Flat Foot

There are two types of flatfeet. Flexible flatfoot means that the foot has some arch, even if it only appears when the person flexes the feet or stands on the toes. This is a normal condition that is generally painless and does not require treatment. Stiff, inflexible, or painful flatfoot is an abnormal condition and may indicate a bone abnormality in the foot, a disease, or an injury. Flatfeet are a normal condition in infants and toddlers. This is partly the result of fatty deposits along the bottom of the foot that go away as the child grows. It is also because the ligaments in the foot have not fully developed. Flat-footedness in children is generally painless and does not interfere with walking or activity. In fact, as children learn to walk, the soft tissues in the foot tighten and form the arch. Most children develop arches by late childhood. When flatfeet continue into adulthood, most cases are considered normal. Incidence of flatfeet in the general population is unknown.

Causes

You can have a tendency towards fallen arches from birth. Up through the toddler stage, it is common to have flat feet. Throughout childhood, arches tend to normally develop. For reasons not well understood, however, in some cases the feet stay flat and the arch never forms. In many cases this abnormality does not cause symptoms or require any treatment. In other cases, it is due to a condition called tarsal coalition. This occurs when some of the foot bones fuse.

Symptoms

Most people do not exhibit any symptoms of flat feet, but if the condition is due to an underlying problem, symptoms can include foot pain, mainly in the arch or heel areas, difficulty standing on tiptoes, swelling that occurs on the inside of the ankle, pain in the calf, knee, hip, or lower leg area, both feet lie flat on the ground with no gap, Shoes may not fit properly, heel may tilt away from the midline of the body more than usual, absence of foot arch when standing. If you are experiencing these symptoms and have flat feet, you should consider seeing your doctor or a podiatrist immediately for an examination.

Diagnosis

Your doctor examines your feet to determine two things, whether you have flat feet and the cause or causes. An exam may include the following steps, Checking your health history for evidence of illnesses or injuries that could be linked to flat feet or fallen arches, Looking at the soles of your shoes for unusual wear patterns, Observing the feet and legs as you stand and do simple movements, such as raising up on your toes, Testing the strength of muscles and tendons, including other tendons in the feet and legs, such as the Achilles tendon or the posterior tibial tendon, Taking X-rays or an MRI of your feet.

fallen arches insoles

Non Surgical Treatment

If the condition is not bothering you or preventing you from being mobile, you may not need treatment (depending on your doctor?s diagnosis). Generally, treatment is reserved for those who have additional problems. Still, your doctor will probably recommend a simple treatment plan for your condition. This treatment may include rest and icing the arch, changing footwear, anti-inflammatory medication, using orthotics, over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, physical therapy. Corticosteroid injection (usually used in cases of severe pain). If these methods do not relieve symptoms of flat feet, your doctor may recommend surgery to reduce pain and improve the alignment of your bones.

Surgical Treatment

Acquired Flat Foot

Surgery for flat feet is separated into three kinds: soft tissue procedures, bone cuts, and bone fusions. Depending on the severity of the flat foot, a person?s age, and whether or not the foot is stiff determines just how the foot can be fixed. In most cases a combination of procedures are performed. With flexible flat feet, surgery is geared at maintaining the motion of the foot and recreating the arch. Commonly this may involve tendon repairs along the inside of the foot to reinforce the main tendon that lifts the arch. When the bone collapse is significant, bone procedures are included to physically rebuild the arch, and realign the heel. The presence of bunions with flat feet is often contributing to the collapse and in most situations requires correction. With rigid flat feet, surgery is focused on restoring the shape of the foot through procedures that eliminate motion. In this case, motion does not exist pre-operatively, so realigning the foot is of utmost importance. The exception, are rigid flat feet due to tarsal coalition (fused segment of bone) in the back of the foot where freeing the blockage can restore function.

After Care

Time off work depends on the type of work as well as the surgical procedures performed. . A patient will be required to be non-weight bearing in a cast or splint and use crutches for four to twelve weeks. Usually a patient can return to work in one to two weeks if they are able to work while seated. If a person's job requires standing and walking, return to work may take several weeks. Complete recovery may take six months to a full year. Complications can occur as with all surgeries, but are minimized by strictly following your surgeon's post-operative instructions. The main complications include infection, bone that is slow to heal or does not heal, progression or reoccurrence of deformity, a stiff foot, and the need for further surgery. Many of the above complications can be avoided by only putting weight on the operative foot when allowed by your surgeon.
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