This post was written by Ashley M. Bojrab, DPM, FACFAS, ABPM, CWS, PPG – Podiatry.
As a podiatrist, I tend to watch people walk and am always intrigued by their gate. No two gaits are exactly the same. Some people have higher arches (Pes cavus), while others have no arch (Pes planus), and some have feet that fall somewhere in between these two extremes. The truth is, the arch of your foot has a significant impact on what your feet need to stay healthy and happy, including your footwear. In addition to the right shoes, those with flat feet might require additional foot care and, perhaps, even treatment.
Causes of flat feet
Flat feet can be hereditary, though it’s most commonly attributed to individuals who are overweight. No arches can also be the result of injury or a health change. The posterior tibial tendon is one of the supporting structures that help create the arch. When this tendon is impaired, it can hinder the arch of the foot.
As those born with them know, living with flat feet (no arch) can be difficult, because your feet can get tired a little quicker than someone with an arch. Flat feet can cause additional foot problems as well, such as bunions, hammertoes, arthritis and calluses. Swelling, pain, ankles that roll inwards easily and toes that point outward are all characteristics and symptoms of flat feet.
In many cases, flat feet can be treated conservatively by wearing supportive shoes, orthotics, bracing and losing weight. If symptoms persist, or the patient has a collapsed arch, a provider might recommend physical therapy, anti-inflammatories, topical creams, or modifications to shoe gear.
When conservative treatment fails, a patient can explore surgical options with a foot and ankle specialist. While there are surgical options that can offer relief, the decision should not be taken likely, and considered as a last resort.
If you are experiencing discomfort as a result of your flat or fallen arches, it’s important to speak with your podiatrist. They can help you find options to offer more comfort in every step.