Flat Feet and Arch Pain
Flat feet are a common problem in many adults. They can lead to arch pain, which is not something that you should have to deal with on a daily basis. Thankfully, there are treatment options available. Even the most severe cases can be treated so you can walk comfortably and without pain.
What Are Fallen Arches?
People are not born with arches. Usually, somewhere in early childhood (around 2-3 years of age), we begin to develop this part of the foot. Some people’s arches never form for reasons such as genetics or injury. Other times the arches will be present in childhood and then collapse in adulthood. This is known as Adult Acquired Flatfoot and it can exhibit itself in one of two ways.
Flexible flatfoot is when the arches are present when walking, but go away when you are standing still. Rigid flatfoot is when there is a complete absence of arches. This is typically the more painful kind because arches facilitate walking. You might feel achiness in your feet or notice swelling, particularly in the bottom of your feet.
How Do I Know What Type of Foot I Have?
It can be difficult to know what type of foot you have, especially if you are experiencing no pain or symptoms. The best way to figure it out is by doing the “wet test.” You do this by placing your foot in some water and then pressing it flat down onto a piece of brown paper so you can see the outline of your foot.
If you can see most of the middle of your foot, then you most likely have flatfeet. If you can see about half of the middle of your foot, you have normal arches. If you see only a thin line where the outside of your foot hits the paper, you may have high arches. It’s important to know what kind of foot you have so you can wear the proper shoes or inserts.
Treatment for Arch Pain
The goal of treatment isn’t necessarily to fix your arches, but to ease your pain. Many people can live happy and fulfilled lives without arches. If you don’t have any symptoms or pain, you can “leave well enough alone.” Putting ice on your feet or taking pain medications can relieve swelling and pain. For more long-term relief, practice different stretches for your feet. Building up strength in the surrounding muscles can also greatly impact the amount of discomfort you feel.
There are also orthotics (both over the counter and custom made) that match the exact form of your foot. In very severe cases, you may find that surgery is the best option. There are different kinds of surgery for every unique situation. It’s best to discuss with your doctor so you can make the right decision for yourself.
Where to Find Help
Getting a doctor’s help is important with flat feet. They can prescribe orthotics or medication, and they are also the people who could recommend or discourage surgery. Call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel, podiatrist North Andover, at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our North Andover, MA, office.