Flat Feet and Fallen Arches Treatment in Bellevue, NE
If the entire soles of your feet touch the floor when you stand, you have flat feet. “Too many toes” is another telltale sign of flat feet or fallen arches. Have someone photograph the back of your foot for you. Normally, only the ring toe (fourth) and pinky toe (fifth) should be visible from behind the foot. With flat feet, sometimes all the toes are visible, even the big toe.
Flat Feet in Children
In children, flat feet are normal because their feet are so flexible and, when they stand, their feet naturally flatten. The foot also often turns out when the child stands, making it appear even more flat. Children’s arches are not fallen arches, but rather, they are simply undeveloped. In babies, the arch is almost completely obscured from sight by a pad of fat that runs along the inner border of their feet. A baby’s foot arch is only visible when they are lifted to stand on their tiptoes.
Children’s arches do not fully develop until age six, by which time the feet have also become less flexible, and the appearance of flat feet simply resolves itself. Even if flat feet persist, children do not require treatment unless the feet are stiff and painful and causing problems for the child. Orthotics or special shoes can do more damage than the flatfoot condition itself and, in any event, will not help a child develop an arch.
Certain flatfoot conditions may require evaluation by your child’s pediatrician especially if you see symptoms like foot pain or stiffness, pressure sores on the inner side of the foot, or limited side-to-side or up-and-down ankle motion. Tightness of the Achilles tendon is one condition that results in a flat foot but requires special exercises to stretch the heel cord. A condition known as Rigid Flat Feet can develop in children – especially teenagers – and if left untreated, can lead to arthritis.
Flat Feet and Fallen Arches in Adults
Flat feet and fallen arches, however, are abnormal when they develop later in life. Adult Acquired Flatfoot Deformity (AAFD) can greatly benefit from treatments ranging from orthotics to surgery. AAFD is most often caused by other medical conditions, including:
- Arthritis – Inflammatory forms of arthritis (e.g., rheumatoid) can damage the foot’s supporting ligaments and joint cartilage. Pain and actual changes in foot structure and shape can occur, resulting in a fallen arch.
- Diabetes – Diabetic collapse or charcot foot can progress to more severe conditions because diabetics typically do not feel pain that would otherwise signal the collapse of the arch early on.
- Injury – Fractures and dislocations in the middle-foot area (Lis franc injury) can lead to a flatfoot deformity. Injury to ligaments can cause misalignment in the joints or the structure of the foot to collapse painfully.
- PTTD – The most common cause of flatfoot in adults is damage to the posterior tibial tendon. Risk factors for PTTD include having a flatfoot disorder since childhood, being female, being over 40, being obese, or suffering from diabetes or obesity. Involvement in sports like basketball, tennis or soccer can also damage this tendon.
Diagnosis of Flat Feet and Fallen Arches
It is estimated that a quarter of the U.S. population have flat feet. Very often no treatment is necessary. The following symptoms, however, can send flatfooted people running, or more likely hobbling, to a doctor:
- Pain – in the arches or heel, back or legs – is the leading reason people seek medical attention
- Swelling – especially on the inside bottom of your feet
- Impaired mobility, especially an inability to stand on tiptoes
- Achy, tired feet
Other than the appearance of flat feet and the “too many toes” test, flat feet or fallen arches are diagnosed by physical examination, X-rays, and sometimes MRIs, ultrasounds or CT Scans are necessary.
Treatment of Adult Acquired Flatfoot Deformity (AAFD)
Treatment generally begins with nonsurgical interventions like rest, changes in activity level, a weight-loss plan, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, orthotics or special supportive shoes.
In rare cases, AAFD may require surgical intervention, especially if you have a ruptured or torn tendon along with your flat feet or fallen arches.
Request more information about Fallen Arches or Flat Feet and treatment options today. Call (402) 289-8839 or contact Dr. Donald Buddecke online.
Foot and Ankle Specialists