Foot arches can play a surprisingly large role in not only keeping your feet healthy and comfortable, but also keeping your entire body in proper alignment, and your joints operating comfortably and efficiently.
When working correctly, arches act like springs or shock absorbers, flexing to dampen and dissipate the force of each step. This reduces the rate of wear and tear on bones, joints, and soft tissues throughout the feet and lower body.
But that’s not all they do. Once the arch has been “fully loaded” from flexing, it releases that energy as you push off with your foot, helping you walk and run more easily. They also keep your joints in good biomechanical alignment.
So it’s no surprise that people with flat feet are at much higher risk of developing pain, injury, and fatigue, especially in their feet and legs. While not all cases of flat feet are symptomatic, you should always seek our help if they are causing you discomfort or affecting your mobility.
Flat feet happens to be one of Dr. Foster’s specialties, and our office provides advanced, effective solutions that can be personalized to your needs.
The first thing to understand is that not all cases of flat feet are the same. Flat feet can develop at different times in different people for different reasons, and that can significantly alter the way we go about treating it.
Flat Feet in Children
It is difficult to truly evaluate the condition of a child’s feet due to the amount of fat that most children have in their feet and arches. This fat layer can hide what is going on with the bones deep inside the foot.
Some early indications that your child may have a problematic flatfoot condition include an abnormal gait, or pain when standing or walking. Often, children may not directly tell you about their pain, but instead will simply withdraw from activity due to their discomfort.
Foot types can be hereditary, too. If your child’s arches appear flat, and you can see the same foot type in a parent or grandparent, it is likely that their feet will develop in the same way.
A sizeable minority of kids will never develop a permanent arch. And while in many cases they do not suffer any serious consequences, in rare cases flatfoot may be extremely rigid or caused by a dangerous neurological condition or abnormal fusion of bones (such as tarsal coalition).
If your child or teen has flat feet, we recommend you take them in to get checked out by Dr. Foster, especially if they are showing signs of pain, discomfort, abnormal gait patterns, or impaired mobility. It is important to have these conditions evaluated and treated early in an effort to avoid potential lifelong problems.
Flat Feet in Adults
Other possible contributors to adult-acquired flatfoot include:
- Arthritic conditions. This is especially true for inflammatory arthritis (such as rheumatoid arthritis) that attacks joints and can displace them.
- Injuries. While gradual wear and tear and aging can contribute to flattening arches, specific acute injuries to the middle part of the foot can certainly accelerate the process.
- Medical conditions. Diabetes, neurological disorders, and various other conditions and disorders may increase your risk.
Does Flat Feet REquire Treatment?
As stated above, a sizeable percentage of people with flat feet experience no symptoms. However, this does not mean it should be neglected.
Oftentimes, catching something before symptoms occur is far better than waiting until pain and problems do become apparent to get it addressed. If you feel like your arches are collapsing, or your feet are “flattening” when you stand or walk, an evaluation is strongly recommended (even if you currently have no other symptoms.)
If, however, you are having problems with foot pain, lower body pain, frequent soreness or fatigue, and find that you can’t stay active as long as you like, it’s best to book an appointment. We can help.
Flatfoot Treatment Options
Flat feet is one of our top specialties. Alongside traditional remedies such as stretching and physical therapy, Dr. Joel Foster in Lee’s Summit offers additional specialized treatment options for this common condition.
When it comes to flat feet, the first choice is usually conservative treatment to accommodate the deformity and provide the “missing” shock absorption and biomechanical alignment the feet aren’t providing. Orthotics are often the best way to do this.
That being said, we discourage you from going out and buying shoe inserts on your own. Instead, come to our office to make sure you’re getting something that will work. The options we have available are not only better, but most of the time are less expensive than things you can buy over-the-counter or from stores that sell products (but have no experience in foot biomechanics).
A purpose-built, fully custom orthotic will generally give you the best results, especially for a severe flatfoot that’s interfering with daily life. However, we also carry a line of well-built, effective, prefabricated orthotics that we can customize and refit in our office using heat molding. This will usually offer a much better result than what you can get on your own in the store, at around the same price.
Sometimes, your flat feet may be linked with a collapse in a small, naturally occurring gap between the ankle and heel called the sinus tarsi. When that gap collapses, the ankle bone slips out of place and joints further up the body become misaligned, leading to pain.
HyProCure treatment places a small aluminum stent in this gap via a minimally invasive surgical procedure. This realigns and stabilizes not only the foot and arch, but many joints throughout the body, and may significantly improve or resolve pain associated with flat feet.
If conservative therapies prove ineffective and HyProCure is not indicated, we may consider a more extensive reconstructive surgery to repair and restore arch function.
There are multiple surgical options based on the type and severity of the arch collapse. Whenever possible, we will use the least invasive procedures available in order to help reduce the risk of complication and improve recovery time.
Don’t Let Arch Problems Flatten Your Ambitions
To schedule an appointment and have the experts in Lee’s Summit take a look at your flat feet, give us a call today at (816) 246-4222. We provide quality care and personal treatment, and will take as much time as needed to ensure you get the best treatment for your condition.