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Flat footedness is a condition characterized by the absence of an arch on the inside of the feet, which causes the entire bottom part of the foot to touch the floor when a person stands up. Being born with flat feet and never developing an arch is relatively common. However, flat-footedness that develops in adulthood is different.

Flat Feet Causes

The arch of the human foot isn’t something we’re born having. The arch develops during childhood, in most people. But some people never develop a foot arch. While those who weren’t born with a foot arch may never have foot or ankle problems, people with flat feet can be at an increased risk of these issues in the future.

Additionally, even people who have lived most of their lives with arched feet can sometimes experience “fallen” arches. Fallen arches are often the result of aging and many years of wear and tear on the feet, which can weaken the tendon responsible for supporting the arch. Flat feet are a more common occurrence in women than men, especially after 40. There are also are other conditions that can increase the risk of flat feet or fallen arches in adults. These include traumatic foot or ankle injury, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.

patient after treatment for toenail fungus in Anaheim

Flat Feet Symptoms

Many people who have feet do not experience pain or other symptoms associated with the condition. In these cases, there is no treatment or other intervention necessary. However, when people with flat feet do experience symptoms, they can include one or more of the following:

  • Heel pain or foot pain in the area where an arch would be present.
  • Foot pain that worsens with activity.
  • Swelling or pain that is concentrated on the inside of the ankle (but may eventually “radiate” to the outside as well); or swelling on the inside bottom of the feet.
  • Difficulty standing on “tippy-toes.”

A trained podiatrist or foot and ankle specialist is the best person to diagnose and recommend treatment options for people experiencing symptoms associated with flat feet. The doctor will obtain a thorough history of your foot health, perform a physical examination of your foot mechanics, and in some cases, he or she will order imaging tests to rule out other possible foot pain causes. Dr. Haupt has decades of experience in helping people with symptomatic or painful flat feet find the relief they need to continue living otherwise healthy and active lives.

Flat Feet Treatments

Though many people with flat feet will not require treatment because the condition isn’t causing pain or other issues, some do. At Newport Foot & Ankle Center, we like to first take a conservative approach to the treatment of flat feet.

Orthotics: Also referred to as “arch supports,” these are often found as over-the-counter cushions that can help relieve the pain associated with flat feet. Our practice also offers custom-designed arch supports which mold around the precise contours of each patient’s own feet. Orthotics aren’t a cure for flat feet, but they can help people find the foot or heel pain relief needed to otherwise engage in activities of daily living.

Bracing: Much like the orthotic inserts, the goal of bracing is to provide constant arch support to the feet. Bracing may be necessary if orthotics are ineffective or as an initial approach. Braces for flat feet fit inside shoes and are also specifically tailored to your foot and ankle dimensions.

If non-invasive treatment options for flat feet fail to provide a patient with the relief needed to engage in pain-free, active daily living, there are surgical options that may help.

Surgical Treatment

Tendon Transfer: When the tendon that supports a foot arch isn’t functioning correctly or is damaged, a procedure called tendon transfer may be an option. As the name would suggest, tendon transfer involves moving a healthy tendon from another area of the body and replacing the damaged foot tendon with it. This procedure is designed to help re-establish the foot arch and to realign the foot correctly.

Bony Correction: Rather than a repair of the tendons that are affected in people with flat feet, some surgical procedures warrant the correction of the foot bones to restore the foot arch. Bony correction of flat feet often involves fusing or grafting foot bones to make the rise of the foot arch more natural.

Though congenital flat-footedness that doesn’t result in symptoms may never be something you need to worry about, when pain or other symptoms do occur, it is vital to address it sooner rather than later. In some cases, and before a foot arch completely “collapses,” it can be helped with non-invasive measures. However, if gone untreated or once complete collapse occurs, and flat-footedness has set in, surgery may be the only option to obtain pain- and symptom relief.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the painful effects of flat feet, contact us today. With a breadth of experience in flat feet treatment, Dr. Haupt and his expert team are here to help.