If you’re experiencing foot pain, a podiatrist may be able to help. Foot pain can significantly impact your mobility and, by extension, your quality of life. However, to effectively treat your symptoms, we need to get to the root cause.
Out of all the patients we see at our St. Louis, MO, clinic, flat feet are surprisingly common. About 8% of U.S. adults have flat feet. While most people don't have symptoms, about 10% experience discomfort or pain.
So, what can you do about it? Fortunately, with the right information and treatment, you can live a full life.
What Are Flat Feet?
First, let's talk about what flat feet are. If you have a "flat foot," your foot doesn't have the characteristic arch that normally develops in early childhood. While many children naturally grow out of flat feet, some people retain their flat feet or develop them later in life.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most obvious and often only symptom is the lack of arch. However, if you have posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (a type of flat foot caused by injury), you may also experience the following:
- Pain in your ankle
- Pain in your foot
- Swelling in your ankle
A tight Achilles tendon is another condition that can cause flat feet. If this is the source of the issue, walking and running will be painful.
What Causes Flat Feet?
Arches develop as the tendons in your feet tighten. When those tendons don't tighten, either from lack of use or other factors, feet remain visibly flat.
If your tendons do develop as intended but sustain an injury, the result may be flat feet. For example, if you have posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, the tendon supporting your arch is torn, swollen, or damaged, and therefore unable to do its job.
What Are the Treatments for Flat Feet?
The good news is, there are ways to treat flat feet. Here at the Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute, we can help patients increase their mobility and decrease their discomfort.
When you visit our clinic in St. Louis, MO, our podiatrists will examine you to determine whether you have flat feet. Upon diagnosis, we'll create a treatment plan.
If an injury causes your flat feet, our priority is to treat said injury. Treatment may involve anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and physical therapy to ensure the tendon heals correctly.
If your flat feet are the result of underdeveloped tendons, we may recommend lifestyle changes:
- Wearing supportive shoes
- Exercising regularly to reduce foot pressure caused by obesity
- Limiting your time spent walking or standing
When running or walking causes pain, you may be more reluctant to do it. This reluctance can interfere with exercise, which harms your health. Pain may also make you less likely to participate in activities with loved ones if those activities involve a lot of walking or running. Essentially, the biggest benefit of treatment is making decisions without foot pain hanging over your head.
Most of these treatments come with few risks. However, in extreme cases, our podiatrists may recommend surgery. Though rare, complications can follow surgery. Should you pursue surgery as part of your treatment, you must take the following precautions:
- Follow the doctor's instructions before and after the procedure.
- Avoid strenuous activities while your foot heals.
- Take the full regimen of antibiotics and other prescriptions to ensure effectiveness.
How Can You Make an Appointment?
Are you struggling with pain in your feet? The foot doctors at Horizon Foot & Ankle Institute can help. To learn more or set up an appointment at our clinic in St. Louis, MO, give us a call at (314) 381-1800 or contact us online.