If you have pain in your feet and ankles after a moderate amount of walking, visit a local foot doctor and get examined for flat feet. That little arch in the foot acts as a natural shock absorber when you walk. Without the arch, your feet and ankles take the full impact when you step down. Here is how that arch does so much and what can be done to relieve the stress on your feet and ankles.
Anatomy of Your Arch
Muscles and tendons in the foot hold the bones in a cup shape, creating the familiar arch. Your foot and ankle turn in slightly to better distribute your weight across the foot. When these muscles and tendons can no longer hold the arch shape, your foot rests flat on the floor and your foot and ankle turn out slightly. This places more stress on the foot and on the inside of your ankle joint. You can develop pain in your ankle, knee and hip joints from fallen arches.
Why You Have Flat Feet
Some people are born with no arch in their foot. The muscle and tendons are too long to hold the foot bones in the cup shape. Other reasons for the loss of the arch include:
- Muscle or tendon injury - Stretched muscles and tendons in the foot from overuse can fail to hold the arch in place.
- Weight gain - If you experience excess weight gain, your muscles may not be able to maintain the arch.
- Other health conditions - Diabetes and arthritis can affect the strength of the muscles that hold the arch.
Treatment of Flat Feet
Your foot doctor will measure the amount of arch that you have and determine the ability of your muscles to hold the correct shape. The doctor will first offer some non-invasive approaches to maintaining a healthy arch such as:
- Custom-made shoe inserts with an artificial arch to support your foot.
- Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in your foot so they can support your arch.
- Leg and ankle supports which are often used with the shoe inserts to keep your foot and ankle in proper alignment.
Should these non-invasive approaches not give you enough relief, there are some surgical procedures that your foot doctor can recommend:
- Repositioning of the tendons - The surgeon will place the attachment point of tendons in your foot where they have better leverage for maintaining your arch.
- Creating an artificial arch - Specific bones in your foot can be fused together to form an arch shape that is not as flexible as a natural arch, but will still have some of the same cushioning effects.
If you're looking for a foot doctor in your area, visit Gary S. Hymes DPM.