However, sometimes arches collapse over time after years of wear and tear. Sometimes they don’t even develop in the first place! This can lead to a host of potential problems, including feet and legs that tire and fatigue easily, pain throughout the entire back and lower body, swelling, and ultimately, difficulty getting through your day or engaging in activities you used to enjoy.
When it comes to flat feet, there are three broad approaches: observation, conservative care, or surgery.
Flat Feet Without Pain
This is the “wait and see” approach. Not everyone with flat feet experiences pain, or feels that low arches are impairing their ability to accomplish their daily tasks or enjoy their favorite hobbies and activities. If your flat feet aren’t bothering you (or contributing to pain elsewhere, such as the knees, hips, or back), it may be best to simply monitor the situation.
However, if you do have pain, we strongly encourage you to seek treatment, as it will only get worse without intervention.
Conservative Care for Flat Feet
When flat feet cause mild to moderate symptoms, they can often be managed successfully using conservative methods. Your arches will still be flat, but they may no longer regularly cause pain or keep you from doing what you love. Conservative treatment options include, but may not be limited to:
- Shoe inserts, arch supports, or custom orthotics
- New shoes that take better consideration of your gait, foot structure, or pronation style
- Stretching exercises—often people with flatfoot also have a tight Achilles tendon that pulls painfully on the heel and arch. Stretches can help relieve the discomfort.
Flat Foot Surgical Correction
In general, we prefer to exhaust conservative options before moving on to surgical correction. However, cases of flatfoot that pose more significant pain or loss of function typically require surgery to get the best results.
Flatfoot correction is one of our core specialties at Advanced Foot & Ankle. We take each case very seriously and devise a surgical plan that is most appropriate for both the condition of your flatfoot and your post-surgical goals. Procedures may include realigning and/or lengthening the heel bone, fusing joints, realigning or fusing metatarsal bones in the middle of the foot, repairing and transferring soft tissues like tendons and ligaments, and others.
After the surgery, we’ll set a schedule for follow-up appointments, as well as provide detailed information on how you can best care for your recovering feet.