Health problems: Fallen Arches Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Fallen foot arch is a condition when the arch of the foot disappears. This can be quite painful for suffers. There is a wide variety of causes of fallen foot arch. Treatment will vary depending on cause, but an active life is possible with the right care.

Fallen Arches Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Walking, running, standing… most of us spend hours each day on our feet. That can be tiring for any of us, but for those with fallen foot arch it can be pure agony. Fallen foot arch (Pes Planus), also known as flat foot or weak foot syndrome, is a condition in which the foot has no arch. Some people are born with this condition and others develop it later. There are two types of this: flexible and rigid.

In flexible fallen arch, the arch of the foot disappears during standing and returns when the foot is elevated. Most children under age 5 have this condition, and it is completely normal. Most people will outgrow this, with their arches fully forming between the ages of 7 and 10. However, some people never outgrow this condition. In fact, fifteen to twenty-five percent of adults have flexible fallen arch. Luckily, most never develop any symptoms.

In rigid fallen arch syndrome, on the other hand, the arch is lost both during standing and when the foot is elevated. This is a more serious problem, and symptoms are much more likely. Symptoms will vary depending on the cause of the fallen arch, but may include:

• Tired, sore feet

• Lower back pain

• Pain in the arch

• Tired legs

• Pain when highest point of arch is pressed

• Poor balance

• Heavy calluses where the arch should be

• Uneven gait

• Pain that begins at the outside rear of the foot and spreads upward to the outer ankle

• Foot pain that is aggravated by activity or walking on uneven ground

• Frequent ankle sprains

• Significant swelling (when condition is caused by injury)

• Toes that point outward

There are a wide variety of possible causes of fallen foot arch:

• Genetics (Flexible fallen arch is often inherited)

• Malfunction of the muscles that form the arch

• Joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis

• Disorders of nerve function (neuropathy)

• Foot bones are not properly aligned. This is usually seen in congenital disorders, such as Down syndrome.

• Fusion of two or more foot bones. This is a rare cause.

• High-impact injury, such as car accident, sports accident, or a fall.

If no symptoms exist, no treatment is necessary. However, a doctor should always be consulted for prolonged foot pain or abnormal walking, especially in children. The doctor might do X-rays to study the bone structures in the feet. The doctor might also inspect the patient’s shoes for signs of excessive wear. In most cases doctors will start with conservative, non-invasive treatments, such as:

• Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and others) for pain management.

• Arch support in shoes (either store-bought or specially ordered) to support the arch and correct imbalance

• Use of arch strapping, especially for runners.

• Exercise to strengthen muscles in foot or leg.

In more extreme causes, or if the above measures do not work, your primary care physician or podiatrist might try the following:

• Temporary immobilization in cast

• For severe cases when all else fails, doctor may suggest surgery

• Physical therapy after casting or surgery.

Though fallen arch syndrome is often a lifelong condition, it can be managed. With proper care and exercise, most sufferers can maintain an active lifestyle with little or no pain.

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