Have you ever been shopping for new shoes and noticed the phrases ‘high arch’ or ‘low arch’? Arches are the part of the foot located on the inner edge between the base of the big toe and the heel. A normal adult arch should appear slightly curved, leaving a small gap between the foot and the ground when standing. Of course, hardly anyone has the perfect arch. Arches can either be too curved, leaving a large gap (high arch), or not curved enough, creating too much contact between the foot and the ground (low arch). The latter is referred to as Flatfoot, also known as Pes Planus. Flatfoot can range anywhere from a slightly lower than normal arch to no arch at all.
Low arches can either be acquired as an adult or present from childhood. Some of the most common causes of flatfoot include: family history of weak arch, arthritis, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, arthritis, injury to bone/ligaments, diabetic collapse (Charcot) and pregnancy.
A great number of people with low arches go their entire lives without any pain or symptoms. For these individuals treatment is not necessary. However, in some cases, low arches can cause serious pain and discomfort when walking, standing or exercising. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Pain and/or swelling on the inside or outside of the ankle
- Increasing pain with activity
- Pain along the arch or heel
Any individual experiencing pain or discomfort caused by flatfoot should see a podiatrist. The appropriate treatment of flatfoot can prevent future knee and back pain potentially caused by low arches. Thankfully, there are wonderful treatments available for flatfeet, including:
- Arch supports/Orthotic devices – The podiatrist may suggest over the counter arch supports or custom fit orthotics created by a mold of the patient’s feet and specially designed to correct their low arch. Many patients find that orthotics alleviate most, if not all of their previous discomfort.
- Proper shoewear – Wearing the correct type of shoes for your arch-type can make a huge difference. Make sure that the shoes are supportive and fit comfortably.
- Stretching – Stretching will help those patients whose flatfeet are caused by tight tendons and/or muscles.
If you or someone you know has Flatfoot, please consider making an appointment with either Dr. Jay C. Larson at Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists in Glendale, Arizona. We have many treatment options available for your feet.