Podiatry Treatment for Flat Feet
It is normal for an arch to exist on the bottom of the foot. However, some individuals may have difficulty in the proper development of these arches during childhood, or may have suffered injury to the area that results in fallen arches. Another common term for fallen arches is flat feet.
Causes and Risk Factors
Newborns and toddlers are expected to have flat feet, as their arches have not yet developed, so do not become too worried about your child’s feet at a very young age. As we grow older and learn to walk, an arch should become visible. Children who are unable to develop this characteristic in their feet often experience complications of flat feet throughout their life.
It is also entirely possible for an individual’s arches to fall. This process occurs gradually over time, and is usually attributed to risk factors like obesity, arthritis, and a genetic predisposition.
Severe trauma or injury to the foot can also change its shape and the visibility of a person’s arches.
Symptoms of Flat Feet
Generally, individuals with flat feet will not experience much discomfort with the condition, though over time the fallen arches may become increasingly more painful as more pressure is but on nearby nerves and bones to support the body. Other common symptoms of flat feet include swelling in the lower extremities, and an unequal distribution of body weight that is likely to result in wearing of shoes in one particular area of the foot.
If the person is unable to see a significant arch in their foot while standing flat on the floor, but is able to detect a slight arch while the foot is flexed or on tiptoe, it is likely that they have flexible flat feet. This condition may worsen to reach full flat footedness, though it is possible for individuals to outgrow or correct problems associated with flexible flat feet.
Individuals who experience significant pain in the feet and ankles that is not relieved with proper footwear or rest should contact The Foot Institute, located in both Shreveport and Natchitoches for a thorough evaluation to determine the source of their discomfort and how it may be treated.
Diagnosing Flat Feet
Dr. Angelo Morreale is often able to determine if a patient suffers from fallen arches by conducting a physical examination of the feet. Problems stemming from the feet may also be able to explain other pains in the body, such as those in the low back or legs.
If more information is needed, Dr. Morreale is likely to order a diagnostic imaging test to fully visualize the internal structure of the foot. Such tests can include an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI.
Once a clear cause has been identified, the patient will be diagnosed with flat feet and begin the process of evaluating their treatment options.
Flat Foot Treatment in Shreveport, LA
If a child is starting to exhibit symptoms of flat feet, the issue may be corrected using minimal treatment if addressed early on. As mentioned, most kids will grow out of their flat footedness by the time they reach adulthood. However, there are several ways to promote the formation of arches in their feet as they get older.
Evidence shows that children remain barefoot while walking on a variety of different surfaces are more likely to have foot arches that develop normally. In addition, wearing open-toed shoes that do little to restrict movement of the feet are to be encouraged in comparison to closed-toed, narrow shoes.
For Lasting Damage
For those that have already suffered significant damage to the arches of their feet, there are still many non-surgical treatment options available, such as:
- Orthotic Supports: It can be possible to reshape and support the arch of the foot using various types of orthotic inserts. These are most often place within the shoe to help encourage the development of a natural arch in the foot.
- Stretches and Exercises: No matter what type of treatment a patient chooses to utilize, stretching and regularly exercising the muscles of the foot can significantly improve its arch. Foot gymnastics, along with the runner’s stretch and/or downward dog are all popular techniques used to manipulate the muscles of the foot.
- Massage: Massage can also be beneficial in relieving chronic foot pain while improving the flexibility of the feet.
Surgery for Flat Feet
If treatment for a patient’s flat feet remain unsuccessful, it may be time to consider more comprehensive treatment options. Surgical procedures used to correct a person’s flat feet typically vary on a case-by-case basis, as each individual and each foot is quite different. The surgery should be suited to best address that particular person’s symptoms, and to offer them as many long-term benefits as possible.
To learn more about foot surgery, or to discuss the management and treatment of your flat feet, please contact The Foot Institute at (318) 797-3668 to set up a consultation with one of our podiatrists.