Flat Feet: When Arches Fall

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Have you ever wondered why your feet have arches? As it turns out, the arch serves several useful purposes for us humans—they help keep your knees and hips aligned, they absorb shocks and impacts, they help us transfer weight smoothly and efficiently, they provide a little “bounce” in your step, and more.

However, some people find that their arches become flatter over time, or in fact never develop at all. On its own, this is not necessarily concerning: if your flat feet or low arches aren’t causing you any problems, you don’t need to see us. Keep wearing good, supportive shoes and enjoy! However, when fallen arches become a painful nuisance, it’s time to seek help from Dr. Harvey Danciger, DPM.

How to Tell if You Have Flat Feet

The easiest way to determine your foot structure is to perform a wet test—all you need is some construction paper and a source of water. Get your foot wet and step on the paper. If your footprint looks completely (or nearly) filled in at the midfoot, you very likely have a flat arch.

How Arches Fall

In many cases, this condition is merely a result of your genetics—for whatever reason, permanent arches simply never formed as you were growing up.

However, flat feet can be acquired as an adult as well. Tendons supporting the arch can weaken or tear, causing the arch to fall. This can be caused by a physical injury, arthritis, nerve damage, diabetes, or just old age. People who struggle with obesity are also at increased risk, since excess body weight puts more day-to-day stress on the crucial tendons.

When Flat Feet Become a Problem

Although some people are fortunate enough not to experience any difficulties from their flat feet, others can experience a host of problems. For one, they tend to cause you to overpronate when you walk—that means your feet roll too far inward—and that can put your whole body out of alignment, resulting in foot, ankle, knee, hip, and even back pain.

Other problems you might experience include soreness and pain in the arch itself, especially pain that gets worse during activity. Your feet may swell up and tire more easily, and certain motions (such as standing on tiptoes) can be more difficult and painful.

Managing Your Symptoms

When fallen arches become a problem, it’s time to seek help. After a full evaluation at our office, Dr. Harvey Danciger, DPM, will put together a treatment program to help relieve your pain as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The simplest pain management measures include getting off your feet and using ice to control swelling, or taking over-the-counter painkillers (if you can do so safely) when symptoms spike. For tougher symptoms, laser pain treatment or steroid injections at our office may be more beneficial.

For more permanent corrective measures, we’ll start with conservative treatment options. It might all come down to your shoe choice—something that merely fits you correctly, provides a stable heel, and fully supports your arch can make a huge difference. If that’s not enough, other technologies such as wraps, taping, arch inserts, or full custom orthotics (specially molded to your feet) that redistribute your weight and realign your stride. Stretching and physical therapy can also help your flat feet deal with daily stresses—we’ll show you what kinds of exercises to perform.

Although we consider it a last resort, in severe cases (especially those resulting from an injury that hasn’t healed properly) surgery may be performed. The precise procedures—bone fusion or grafting, reinforcing tendons, removing bony growths, etc.—will be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on your needs.

If you’re in pain due to sagging arches, don’t suffer in silence. Let Dr. Harvey Danciger, DPM, help you get back on your feet.  You can call our Palm Desert, CA office at (760) 568-0108 or use the appointment request option on our website. Foot pain does not need to interrupt your life—call us today.

Dr. Harvey Danciger
Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle