Fallen arches is a condition in which the arch of your foot has collapsed. Instead of being higher than the other areas on the bottom of your feet, your arch is flat and touches the surface where you stand. Symptoms of fallen arches include pain, swollen ankles and weak lower legs. The condition is also known as "flat feet," or "pes planus," and has two types: flexible and painful. If you have flexible fallen arches, you won’t feel pain and usually won’t need treatment. Fallen arches can be caused by injury, obesity, age or normal foot development. There are several treatment options available.
Determine the problem. You may be able to tell if you have fallen arches just by looking at your feet, but foot pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have the condition. Go to the doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Your physician will examine your feet and how you stand and walk. He may do X-rays and other imaging tests for a better diagnosis, which will help him make better treatment recommendations.
Use orthotics. Correcting fallen arches may be possible with orthotics such as shoe inserts and heel wedges. You can buy over-the-counter orthotics, but they can be uncomfortable or ineffective, and may not give you the support you need. Custom-made orthotics are molded for your feet, so they will be better able to correct fallen arches. If you have a severe case of fallen arches, you may need to wear ankle braces. This orthotic will help control the motion of your ankle and support your foot.
Consider physical therapy. Having physical therapy can help correct fallen arches by strengthening and stretching tendons in the foot.
Consider surgery. For severe fallen arches surgery may be the best treatment option. A surgeon will either repair the tendons in your foot, separate and reset bones in the correct position or fuse together the joints in the foot.
Treat yourself. There are things you can do on your own for fallen arches. Resting your feet and wearing shoes with low heels can be a tremendous help in easing fallen arch pain. You should also avoid standing or walking for long periods and cut back on anything that makes your fallen arches worse. This might include dancing, aerobics or other activities that might cause you to overuse your feet. Over-the-counter medicines can also help relieve symptoms while you work to correct fallen arches. Try ibuprofen and other medicines for pain and inflammation.
Tips & Warnings
- Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce fallen arch pain.
- Surgery may not be successful and can leave you with infection, persistent pain and bones that don’t heal.