Most feet feature an arch toward the center of the bottom of the foot. But if the entire bottom of your foot touches the ground when standing, you may have flat feet. Podiatrists may also refer to this condition as a fallen arch because your feet have lost their natural curved shape. But flat feet can be hereditary, and in many cases, you do not need to seek treatment for this foot condition.
However, there are some instances in which you may develop complications related to flat feet. Then you will need intervention from a foot doctor in order to find relief and protect your health. Read on to learn details about how flat feet can affect your wellness as well as treatments from your podiatrist that can help.
Long-Term Effects of Flat Feet
The arch of the foot improves balance, movement, flexibility, and other capabilities of your feet. It also makes a more even distribution of weight across the foot to increase shock absorption as you run or walk on your feet. So if you have flat feet, you may lose some of this function.
This does not always pose a problem to your health. Most people can complete their usual physical activities with flat feet without issue. But if you notice stiffness, weakness, or pain in your feet, you should speak with a podiatrist right away.
Discomfort in your feet may indicate excess pressure on the feet that will put you at greater risk of an injury. If flat feet impact your ability to walk or stand without wobbling, you should not ignore the issue. You could suffer a fall and hurt yourself if you do not address flat feet.
If the arch of your feet collapses suddenly, or if it occurs in only one of your feet, you should also consult your podiatrist. This could point to tissue damage or another issue that will require treatment to heal properly.
Treatment Options for Flat Feet
Your podiatrist can address pain or discomfort related to flat feet when you schedule an appointment. They can evaluate your condition related to your symptoms and recommend treatment accordingly. They may suggest wearing footwear with adequate arch support to improve balance and shock absorption in your feet.
A podiatrist may also provide you with custom orthotics. These inserts that fit into shoes can support your feet throughout your busy day. Certain stretches and exercises can also loosen tight muscles to bring you pain relief.
A podiatrist may recommend physical therapy for patients with more severe symptoms. Some people might benefit from corticosteroid injections which reduce inflammation and therefore pain related to foot injuries.
These treatments will not rebuild the arch in your foot, but most patients will see improvement in their condition. Rarely, a podiatrist will use surgical options to help with serious injuries in the bones, tendons, or muscles related to flat feet.