Flat feet & fallen arches
If you suffer from flat feet (also known as fallen arches) you will notice the arches on the inside of your foot are flattened either slightly or completely. The entire sole of your foot may touch the floor when you stand up and walk.
This very common condition is usually painless and normally happens in childhood when your arches do not develop properly. You can also get flat feet from an injury or simply from wear and tear as you get older.
What are the early signs of having flat feet and fallen arches?
Most people show no signs or symptoms, but some people with flat feet will experience a lot of foot pain, especially in the heel or arch area. Some may even develop knee, hip, and back pain. Pain can worsen with certain activities and for many just walking can be troublesome. You may also develop swelling along the inside of your ankle.
What are the common causes of flat feet and fallen arches?
We have flat feet as toddlers because our foot’s arch has not yet developed. The arches develop throughout childhood but unfortunately for some the arches do not develop completely. There are normal variations of flat fleet and some people without foot arches never suffer pain or experience limitations.
Some children have a flexible flat foot, which is when the arch is visible when the child is standing on tip toes or sitting down but disappears on standing.
Another common reason for flat feet is that years of wear and tear we can weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch. Once this happens, your arch may drop.
There are risk factors to increase your chances of having flat feet:
- Being overweight
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis
How do you get a diagnosis for flat feet and fallen arches?
The doctor or physiotherapist will observe your feet from the front and back before asking you to stand on your toes and walk. They may also look at the wear and tear pattern of your shoes.
If you are experiencing a lot of pain your doctor may arrange one of the following images:
- CT scan
Having imaging taken can also rule out other foot conditions that they may be concerned about.
The doctor may ask you the following to help their diagnosis:
- Where exactly does the pain come from?
- Is the pain dull, sharp, or burning?
- Does a certain activity make the pain worse?
- Do certain shoes bring on more pain than others?
- Can you stand on your tiptoes without pain?
- Have you tried arch supports before?
- How does the pain affect your daily life?
How can you treat flat feet and fallen arches?
If you do not have any pain you do not need treatment. But if you do have symptoms, a few things can help. These include:
- Putting arch (orthotic) supports in your shoes to hold up your arch as you walk
- Physiotherapy to learn some stretching and strengthening exercises
- Supportive footwear
- Pacing yourself when you walk or return to sports after an acute injury
- Pain medication if the pain prevents you doing daily activities
How physiotherapy can help your flat feet and fallen arches
We will do whatever we can to get you on the fastest route to recovery. Some of the treatment methods we use include:
- Strengthening exercises
- Myofascial trigger point release
- Cross-friction massage
- Stretching and range of movement exercises
- Functional exercises