I often have patients come in to the office with a complaint of having flat feet and pain. Sometimes they are children or have had flat feet since they were a child. A question I often get asked by teens and young adults is “If I have had flat feet my whole life, why did it only start to hurt now”?
Children naturally have a decreased arch height that will normally correct as the child grows. If the foot does not correct itself naturally pain can be a result. Often times as our children hit a growth spurt and become more active in sports and other physical activities the problems associated with having flat feet become more evident. Symptoms can vary but usually include: muscles that tire easily, loss of function, pain or achy feet and muscles of the leg, inability or decreased desire to perform physical activity due to pain.
Flat feet arise most commonly from a combination of factors. First, the orientation and structure of the bones in our feet may cause us to walk on the inside of the foot and cause ankles to roll in. Second, too much motion in the joints of the foot does not allow muscles to function properly. Third, having an equinus deformity, also called tight posterior calf muscles will restrict motion at the ankle joint which causes yet further instability in the foot and ankle with stress and fatigue of muscles and other soft tissue structures. As we age our feet lose flexibility and become more rigid which leads to an increase in deformity and symptoms.
There are many conservative treatments to help with flat feet including custom and pre-fabricated orthotics, tapping, bracing and proper shoe gear. This can often be successful if the deformity is flexible or not severe. However, sometimes treatment may require surgical intervention for times when conservative treatments fail or the deformity is rigid or severe. Surgical options range from minor procedures such as an Arthroereisis implant to restrict excessive motion, to larger procedures that may include a reconstruction of the foot to achieve proper alignment and resolve the pain.
Whatever the case may be, at Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington our doctors have extensive training in recognizing the problem and deciding with our patients on an appropriate treatment plan for each patient’s unique foot and ankle problems. If you or a loved one suffers with pain from flat feet please give us a call at (425) 678-3877 or visit our contact page to make an appointment online for any of our locations in Kirkland, Everett or Renton.