Fallen Arches - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Fallen arches or flat feet is a condition in which the arches of your feet collapse. This condition is also known medically as pes planus and can affect one or both feet.


There are two longitudinal arches in one foot. They are made up of bones and supported by various ligaments and muscles. The arches provide flexibility to the foot and help in walking and running. Due to their shape, they act as shock absorbers and help in bearing the body’s weight.



Types of Fallen Arches



There are two types of flat feet- flexible and rigid


Flexible flat feet are when the arches disappear when standing but appear again when not standing. Having flexible flat feet is common in children, and over time, normal arches develop.


Rigid flat feet is when the feet remain flat while standing or not standing. This type generally develops in teenagers.



Causes of flat feet:


There are many different causes of flat feet. Some people have a problem with genes and inherit this condition. They may have fallen arches present at birth (congenital). In other cases, flat feet may develop later in life due to different causes such as:


  • Injury to the tendons

  • Inflammation of tendons

  • Fractured bones

  • Dislocated bones

  • Problems with the nervous system as in muscular dystrophy,  cerebral palsy, or spina bifida

  • Diseases like arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

  • Injury of the posterior tibial tendon

  • Fusion of the bones of the feet (tarsal coalition)


Risk factors for flat feet:


Certain factors increase the risk of getting flat feet, such as:


  • Pregnancy

  • Diabetes

  • Down syndrome

  • High blood pressure

  • Obesity


Symptoms of flat feet:


There may be no symptoms of flat feet. In some conditions, flat feet may show symptoms such as:


  • Pain in the feet

  • Increase in pain while walking or running

  • Swelling of the feet

  • Stiffness of the feet

  • Pain in the leg

  • Back pain


Treatment of flat feet:


If flat feet do not cause pain or bother the patient, treatment may not be needed. When the condition is symptomatic, the treatment may involve stretching exercises, medications such as painkillers to relieve pain, or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation if that’s the cause. Physical therapy and orthotic devices such as braces or casts may help. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended. 


Living with flat feet:


Flat feet may not be symptomatic in many conditions. But if it bothers you, consult your doctor. Along with medical treatment, different remedies and lifestyle changes such as the following can help you better adjust to the condition:


  • Applying cold packs on the feet

  • Resting well

  • Taking painkiller medication for pain

  • Wearing the right footwear

  • Avoiding activities that put an excessive impact on your feet such as sports like hockey, tennis, football

  • Avoid running or walking for long periods

  • Treat risk factors well if you have any like hypertension, diabetes, etc

  • Maintain a healthy weight 


Conclusion:


Fallen arches or flat feet is a condition in which the arches of your feet collapse. They may not be symptomatic mostly. If symptomatic, with the right treatment and management, the condition can get better without having much impact on the quality of life. If you notice a loss of arches in your feet or any symptoms mentioned above, it is advised to see your healthcare provider.

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