What to Do for Flattened Arches
Arches are designed to increase a structure’s efficiency for supporting weight. They have been used for millennia from the Mesopotamians onward to build strong structures. They help distribute pressure evenly to a strong base. You have one in your foot, but not everyone has the same arch shape. Some people have flat feet, which may or may not lead to painful conditions later.
The Effects of Flat Feet
Flat Feet have arches that are lower and flatter than most. This foot shape can be natural—some people’s arches do not develop when they are children. Others have a midfoot that “falls” and flattens over time, which can be the result of injuries, weakness as you age, or even illnesses. Your arch is an important part of your foot structure that helps your manage your body weight and absorb pressure when you walk. A flattened arch isn’t able to do this as efficiently, which can lead to painful problems in the long run.
A flexible flatfoot, particularly one that is natural, may not cause any discomfort or trouble. You may be able to continue your normal activities without difficulty. A rigid flatfoot, or fallen arches that cause pain, will need to be addressed. You may notice aching discomfort in your heels, midfoot, or the outside edge of the foot. Your feet may feel tired, particularly after being active. Often the ankle rolls inward when you stand or walk, which may eventually lead to joint pain in your ankles, knees, or hips. Fallen arches also increase your risk for biomechanical deformities, like hammertoes and bunions.
Managing Your Low Arches
Flat feet that don’t have symptoms may be monitored, but they don’t have to be treated. If your arches are causing discomfort, though, they need care. We will evaluate your lower limbs and determine if there are underlying issues that are contributing to your flattened midfoot. These will also need to be addressed to relieve your pain. Our staff will use a variety of tests to identify the extent of your condition; then we can help you treat the problem.
You can treat flatfoot using entirely conservative methods. The most important treatment is to support your arches with your footwear and possibly orthotics. Choose shoes that have cushioned soles and padding to stabilize the midfoot. Orthotics can help correct abnormal motion and support your feet if your shoes are not enough. Physical therapy stretches and exercises can help reduce the strain on your lower limbs by relaxing and strengthening the muscles and connectors that stabilize your arch.
For serious flatfoot pain, you may need to modify your activities so you don’t fatigue your lower limbs. Try to limit your hard-impacts and how long you spend standing or walking. If you struggle with obesity, losing weight will help as well. We may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to help with your discomfort, too. Only rarely is surgery needed for this condition.
Flat feet are common, but they don’t have to cause pain. You can take steps to manage your condition and keep your lower limbs supported and strong. Don’t wait and suffer—or allow your foot shape to lead to other problems! Contact Dr. Gerald Mauriello for an appointment to take care of your feet and ankles today. You can reach our Belvidere or Hackettstown, NJ, office at (908) 475-8750 or use our online contact form to reach us.