Check your footprint
Most people have a footprint that has a small gap between the heel and the ball of the foot. This is where the foot slightly raises, forming an arch. The arch of the foot is made up of tendons that work together to pull upward. When these tendons don’t work together correctly, people can have fallen arches, also known as flat feet.
Can flat feet develop later in life?
Some people are born with flat feet. Others may have fallen arches because of a tendon injury or weakness, broken bones, arthritis, or inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon. Some additional factors can affect a person’s risk of fallen arches, including diabetes, obesity, or pregnancy.
When is treatment needed?
In many cases, flat feet cause no problems. For some patients, however, the condition can cause some uncomfortable symptoms. Flat feet can cause foot pain, swelling, back pain, or difficulty with specific movements.
Stretching, icing, or physical therapy are common treatments for mild to moderate cases of flat feet. In more advanced cases, a podiatrist may recommend surgery to cut or change the shape of the bones, also known as an osteotomy.
When is osteotomy recommended?
A doctor may recommend surgery when flat feet are due to another condition, such as a tendon tear. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision and then uses special wires to measure the bone. Using a surgical saw, the physician then removes a portion of the bone. Recovering from a foot osteotomy can take a few weeks. In many cases, patients may need to avoid wearing shoes during the healing process.
Before exploring surgery, a doctor may recommend incorporating daily stretches into a routine. These stretches are targeted to specifically help correct fallen arches. Some of these can include heel stretches, rolling out the arches with a tennis ball, or calf raises.
When to seek treatment
In many cases, fallen arches do not require medical intervention. Patients who are experiencing pain, stiffness, soreness or limited range of motion should speak with a podiatrist. To learn more about flat feet and foot osteotomy, schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider.