Relieving Pain from Flat Feet
Flat feet are a lot more common than you might think.
How common? By some estimates, as many as 1 in 4 people have flat feet—or at least low arches. As a matter of fact, virtually all children start out with flat feet, since strong arches don’t typically form until age 5 or so.
For those of us who have graduated preschool, though?
For some people, arches simply never developed at all. For others, feet have gradually flattened over time due to wear and tear. (This happens to everyone to some extent, but we’re talking about severe cases here.)
Whatever may have caused your flat feet, you’re probably wondering whether anything can be done to fix them—especially if you’re also experiencing pain that may be related.
After all, foot pain is something that can slow us all down, no matter what we do for a living or for fun.
Are flat feet are keeping you from playing sports, spending time with your family, going hiking or shopping, or doing anything you want to? If so, you need relief and you need it soon. Otherwise every aspect of your health and wellbeing—physical, mental, emotional—will suffer.
Are My Flat Feet Causing Foot Pain?
This is a key question to answer. Many different factors can cause foot pain. And flat feet aren’t always painful themselves!
If you have flat arches but no associated foot pain or fatigue, you probably don’t need any treatment. (That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t practice good preventative and proactive care, of course.)
That said, flat feet can be associated with many painful symptoms and problems, including:
- Sore or painful feet—particularly in the heels or middle of the foot. Pain often gets worse during or after activity.
- Swelling, particularly along the inside of the ankle.
- Pain in the knees, hips, or even back. This is because flat feet can disrupt the natural alignment and position of the bones and joints all the way up your skeleton. Because your feet are your foundation, if they are misaligned, the rest of your body’s joints must also shift to compensate. This creates pain and stress all over.
- A higher risk of developing other foot deformities. For example, if you have flat feet, you are more likely to also get bunions or hammertoes.
Because of these and other problems, we strongly recommend you seek our help if you have flat arches and are experiencing any kind of pain or discomfort in your feet, ankles, or even your lower body.
What Can I Do About It?
Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment approaches we can take to help you manage your flatfoot pain. These range from the simplest conservative measures to surgery.
At Omega Medical Group (OMG), we are especially focused on developing individualized treatment plans that address your specific needs while allowing you to remain as active as possible.
If your pain isn’t so severe, we may start off with simple therapies and lifestyle adjustments you can make at home. These can help you reduce and manage pain in the short term, and prevent or reduce the severity of future painful episodes.
- Activity modifications. At OMG, we generally don’t like to prescribe “rest” to people with active and busy lifestyles! However, you often can “rest” your feet while remaining active. You may just need to mix in some lower-impact exercises into your routine. For example, if you’re a runner, you might consider going swimming or riding your bicycle a couple of days per week instead of running every day.
- New shoes. Poor footwear is a major culprit behind all kinds of painful foot conditions. If you find that your flat feet are hurting when you wear certain shoes or after certain activities, bring your shoes in with you and we’ll take a look! If your shoes are worn out, don’t fit you properly, or really aren’t built for the kinds of activities you’re performing, your feet will suffer. On the other hand, you might be surprised how much of a difference a good pair of shoes can make. We’ll help you find one.
- Stretching. Specific stretches and physical therapy exercises may help you reduce pain and reduce tension in muscles, tendons, and ligaments that may be contributing to the stress on your arches.
- Weight loss. The math here is simple. The heavier you are, the greater your likelihood of developing flat feet—and the greater stress you put on your sore arches and feet with each step. If you are overweight, shedding a few pounds can drastically reduce the pain associated with your flat feet.
If your flatfoot pain cannot be managed by lifestyle changes and home remedies alone, custom orthotics are among the best long-term conservative solutions.
The orthotics we prescribe at OMG are not ordinary arch supports like you can buy at Publix (or any other supermarket or pharmacy). They are specially crafted just for you, based on either molds or digital scans (or both) of your own two feet.
In fact, our orthotics are even better than most custom orthotics offered by other podiatry clinics, because they’re total contact. In other words, they correct the alignment and posture of your joints whether you are bearing weight on your feet or not.
The right pair of orthotics will cushion and support your arches and heels, realign your biomechanics, and greatly reduce the wear and tear on your feet and lower body—allowing you to be as active as you want to be.
Finding the right orthotic is kind of like finding the right pair of glasses or contacts: while they don’t change the structure of your feet, they allow your feet to function as intended while you’re wearing them.
Although the methods and mechanisms used by each treatment can vary, all regenerative treatments are fundamentally about triggering, activating, or stimulating the natural healing and tissue repair processes your body uses to accelerate the recovery process.
If pain, swelling, and discomfort has become chronic and isn’t responding to home treatments, regenerative medicine techniques are often extremely effective at helping you heal quickly, without the need for surgery.
And even if surgery is necessary, regenerative medicine can help you heal and recover from that faster, too.
Surgery is really the last resort when it comes to flat feet. Unfortunately, if your flat feet are severe and conservative treatments alone cannot relieve your pain or restore you to a full and healthy lifestyle, reconstructive surgery may be your best option.
There is some good news. Our philosophy of keeping you as active as possible and keeping recovery downtime to an absolute minimum isn’t just about prioritizing conservative treatments over surgical ones. It extends to surgery itself.
At OMG, we are trained in minimally invasive surgical techniques that require much smaller incisions than traditional open surgery, and we use them whenever possible—including for many flatfoot reconstruction surgeries.
Minimally invasive techniques offer many advantages. In addition to a lower risk of complications or infections, minimal incision surgery can often significantly reduce overall healing, recovery, and rehabilitation timelines.
In other words, you get back to work and play sooner, and don’t need as much rehab because the surgery wasn’t as disruptive and you didn’t need to stay inactive as long.
How much sooner?
For flatfoot reconstruction specifically, we’ve seen some patients return to weight-bearing activity just two weeks after the procedure. That’s more than twice as fast as the standard five-week timetable for a traditional open surgery!
Don’t Let Flat Feet Keep You Down
If there are two takeaways we want you to have after reading this blog, they are these:
- Any pain or discomfort relating to your flat feet should be examined by a professional.
- At OMG, we pride ourselves on offering the widest possible selection of the highest quality conservative and surgical treatment options to help you.
Or maybe we can just summarize it like this: “If you hurt, we can help.”
Get back to the lifestyle you love. Give our team a call today at (305) 514-0404.