Fallen Arches: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Fallen Arches & Flat feet
Fallen Arches & Flat feet

Fallen Arches: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Fallen Arches: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and the Best Ways to Manage Foot Pain

The upward curve located in the middle of one’s foot is an arch formed by tendons-the bands that are attached to the foot bones. When tendons work together in an ideal manner, they form a normal, moderate arch. When they do not pull together as they should, they generate a problem called fallen arches or flat foot.

Identifying the Most Common Causes and Symptoms of Fallen Arches and Flat Feet

Fallen arches can be linked to various underlying causes, including torn or stretched tendons, an inflammation or injury of the posterior tibial tendon, birth defects, dislocated or broken bones, nerve problems, or existing health concerns, like rheumatoid arthritis for example. The development of fallen arches may also be associated with multiple risk factors, including pregnancy, aging, obesity and diabetes.

Some people are born with flat feet; however, this problem doesn’t impact their well-being and health in any way, so it doesn’t require any type of treatment. On the other hand, other individuals report one or more symptoms correlated with fallen arches, including achy feet, leg and back pain, and reduced mobility. In some cases, these patients have a difficult time standing on their toes. They may also experience persistent pain in the heel and arch area, and notice that the bottom of their feet becomes swollen on a regular basis. All these symptoms should be interpreted as a red flag, and convince patients to schedule an appointment with a local podiatrist.

Exploring the Best Treatment Options for Fallen Arches

Illustration showing the difference between flat and normal feetA podiatrist could recommend the best treatment plan after performing a complete exam, focused on a few key elements, including an analysis of the patient’s health history, a closer look at his or her shoe soles to identify abnormal wear patterns, an analysis of his or her legs and feet and their movement, an assessment of the strength and mechanics of tendons and muscles in the feet, and an interpretation of MRI or X-rays of the feet.

Treatment plans may vary a great deal in terms of features and duration depending on the nature and extent of one’s problem. For instance, patients who do not experience any pain or discomfort may not even require any type of treatment. In the case that conventional treatment is a viable option meant to reduce pain and improve the functionality of the foot, doctors may recommend a combination of elements, including physical therapy, stretching exercises, the administration of anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and rest.

Moreover, doctors may advise their patients to wear a certain types of orthotic devices, such as casts or shoe modifications to correct their problem and minimize their discomfort. As an alternative method to reduce swelling, podiatrists could decide to inject medication, like corticosteroids for example, to minimize the impact of a fallen arch on one’s overall mobility and quality of life.

Surgical interventions become an option when patients experience persistent pain that won’t go away after months of conventional treatment or when they deal with severe foot damage. There are several options available; the surgeon will select the most appropriate one based on the patient’s individual needs. In some cases, podiatrists will perform an excision to remove bony growth, or conduct an arthrodesis to bring several ankle or foot bones together. An osteotomy may also be performed to adjust the shape of the patient’s bone. In some cases, surgeons may decide to do a tendon transfer. By doing so, they would add tendons coming from other body parts to the tendons in the foot to improve their pulling mechanism and create an arch. Last but not least, lateral column lengthening may also be a viable option for patients with fallen arches. During this procedure, surgeons graft bone to the patient’s foot to improve the natural mechanics off the arch.

When fallen arches can be treated without surgery, podiatrists may recommend a comprehensive at-home treatment plan based on rest, use of anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy. Generally speaking, patients suffering from this problem are advised to wear comfortable footwear and/or shoe inserts, avoid extreme workouts and high-impact activities that may put a lot of pressure on the patient’s feet, and monitor risk factors that may aggravate one’s condition, such as obesity and diabetes.

To learn more about flat feet click here.

If you are suffering from fallen arches contact Houston Foot and Ankle. Dr. Donald Stran is a Podiatrist serving the Houston and Friendswood areas. To learn more about the procedures treated at Houston Foot and Ankle or to schedule an appointment please call any of our locations listed below.

Friendswood: (281) 992-0006
Missouri City: (281) 741-3017
Lake Jackson: (979) 297-8500

Dr. Donald Stran

Dr. Donald C. Stran has practiced in the community since 1987. He is Board Certified and is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgery. He is currently a teaching physician with the St. Joseph’s Medical Center podiatric residency program.

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