Flat foot is a common problem shared by both children and adults. Such condition occurs when the longitudinal arch of the foot partially or totally collapses so that it flattens and comes in contact with the ground. This deformity usually affects both feet and begins to develop during childhood or adolescent years. It gradually becomes severe until the period of adulthood. As the deformity worsens over time, the tendons and ligaments of the foot arch may become overly stretched and will eventually tear. The foot then feels stiff accompanied by pain, swelling and general weakness of the area that can possibly affect the lower leg and the knee.
Make sure to give your arch a rest. As much as possible, do not overwork your arch by doing activities that involve prolonged standing and walking--which may lead to pain of the foot (around the arch, heel, ankle or along the sides) that can radiate up to the lower leg.
Take some helpful medications to reduce pain and inflammation. Pain inside and outside the areas of the foot is often accompanied with tenderness or swelling. To alleviate all these discomfort, take some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin).
Wear shoes that provide proper support. It is advisable for flat-footed individuals to apply some modifications on their shoes to avoid further complications. Make sure that you purchase well-fitted shoes to promote good placement of your foot/feet. Shoe inserts can also be placed inside the shoe to provide more comfort and reduce the risk of foot pain.
Control weight-bearing on your ankles. Better yet, avoid weight-bearing at all. It is advisable for mild flat-footed patients to use a walking cast to limit direct application of weight on the ankles. And as for a flat-foot case that's more severe, total immobilization is required.
Consult your doctor for some custom orthopedic devices. These are very helpful custom-made medical devices, and they are constructed by foot and ankle surgeons to address specific foot deformities. Molded and designed to treat the patients' specific foot problem, the orthopedic device is placed inside the shoe for the purpose of maintaining correct alignment and positioning of the foot. The purpose is to support its structures and improve its function.
Schedule for a physical therapy session. Physical therapy treatment is based upon the patient's specific flat-foot problem. In cases where flat foot/feet is caused by a tight Achilles tendon, stretching incorporated with strengthening exercises of the foot is applied. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), ultrasound and some heating modalities are also given to provide temporary comfort or relief from pain.
Watch your weight. If you are overweight and flat-footed, it will help if you lose some of those unwanted weight off to avoid too much pressure and stress on your arches.
Ask your doctor if your flat-foot/feet problem is qualified for surgery. If pain and discomfort is persistent after applying treatments or if your condition do not seem to respond well with conservative therapies, it may mean that your case requires surgery. Surgical procedures are given based on the patient's specific problem and severity of the condition. Such methods include bone realignment, tendon lengthening, attachments of implant devices, and joint fusions. All of these techniques are aimed at alleviating pain and improving overall function or mobility of the foot.