Human foot is nature’s engineering marvel. It bears and equally spreads the weight of the body to maintain stability while walking and standing. The arch of the foot helps to do this. An arch is the curve that you see in the middle of the foot. It is formed by the tendons and ligaments that are attached to the bones of the foot.
There are several such tissue bands in the foot and lower portion of the leg which work together to form an arch. A fallen arch or flat foot is a condition where the foot does not have an arch, it is flat.The deformity becomes more obvious when you stand on the feet.
Fallen arches or flat feet can be easily detected by a person himself in three simple steps. Wet your foot with water. Stand in a place where the surface is flat. Get aside from where you are standing. Now observe the imprint of your sole. If there is a complete impression of your foot, then you are having a fallen arch or flat foot. If there is a partial imprint in the middle, your foot is normal. Flat foot is a birth defect; many children outgrow this deformity while few of them carry it even when they grow older.
A person with fallen arch may remain asymptomatic for years. However, some patients may complain of pain in foot while walking and standing. He may also have altered gait, which may ultimately lead to pain in the knees, hips and lower back. Often the foot is swollen.
What Are The Causes Of Fallen Arches?
There are several causes for fallen arch in adults. Below are the most common causes.
- This abnormality of foot usually occurs since birth. Flat foot is common till 2 years of age. As the child grows, the arch develops normally. However, in some the abnormality does not alter and remains for lifetime.
- Injury to posterior tibial tendon can lead to fallen arch. This tendon runs from calf to the mid portion of the foot. When the tendon is stretched, it causes the arch to form. Inflammation due to overuse, injury, or rheumatoid arthritis can irritate the tendon which may ultimately lead to flat foot.
- Fracture or dislocation of tarsal bones (bones of foot) can cause fallen arch of the foot.
- Damage to the nerve due to neurological disorder or muscle disease can also result in flat foot.
- Other risk factors that may precipitate fallen arch include diabetes, obesity and pregnancy.
Symptoms Of Fallen Arches
There are many adults who have fallen arch but the condition remains asymptomatic throughout their life. However, in many cases some people experience symptoms:
- Pain in heel and in the medical side of the foot.
- Improper gait.
- Foot touches the ground without leaving any gap while standing.
- Pain in the knees, hips and in the lower back.
- Swelling in the medial side of the foot and ankles.
- Standing on toes is difficult.
- Difficulty in wearing normal shoes.
- Heels may deviate away from the central line of the body.
Treatment For Fallen Arches Flat-Feet
Patient may not need any treatment if a fallen arch remains asymptomatic. If flat foot causes pain and difficulty while walking, the patient may require treatment. Here are few important tips.
- When there is acute pain in heels and foot, patient should take rest. It will reduce swelling as well as pain.
- Ice fomentation in this area will also help to relieve these symptoms.
- Physiotherapy and ultrasound is effective in alleviating the symptoms.
- Specific orthotic shoes and inserts in shoes are useful in relieving pain.
- Anti inflammatory and analgesics help reduce pain and swelling.
- Avoid running without wearing proper shoes meant for fallen arch.
- Avoid certain sports such as basket ball, high jumps, hockey etc where there is excess of impact on foot and sole.