We all admire dancers, ice skaters, and gymnasts whose bodies are so flexible they seem to bend like reeds in the wind. It’s what we aim for in yoga classes, because being flexible makes you feel healthier and lessens your chance of injury. The same is true of your feet: flexible flatfoot is less of a problem than a foot structure that has become rigid.
Flat Feet in Kids
All children start out life with flat feet. There is extra padding under their arches for stability as they first start to learn to balance on their feet. Only as they learn to walk do those soft tissues begin to tighten and form the arch shape we refer to as “normal.” For some kids that never happens and they go through life without problems or pain, even though their arches are flat.
You don’t need to worry about your child’s low arches unless they are painful. Sometimes that will begin to happen when they are in their teens. Then you can bring them to our office for a consultation and we will help you determine whether any treatment is necessary.
Flexible Flatfoot in Adults
If your feet have always been flat, it is possible you will continue to have no pain even through your older years. If your feet remain flexible, it means that they look flat when you are standing on them, but if you rise on tip toe or lift up your leg, an arch is visible. The ankle may fall inward, the heel stick out more to the outside, and the toes lean to the outside, too. From the back, an imaginary line from your heel to your calf will be tipped and off center, but you may still be able to walk without pain.
However, it is more likely that the older you get, the more you will begin to feel the wear and tear on the tendons and ligaments in your feet from having low arches. The symptoms may include achiness and pain in various parts of the foot or ankle, and also discomfort in the shins, knees, hips or lower back because your flat feet have led to an altered way of walking.
Treatments for Flatfoot Pain
If you are in pain, there are many ways we can help you, and most do not involve surgery. One way is to modify your activity so your arches get a rest. Cut down on long hikes or morning runs for a while and let the tissues heal. If the pain is severe, we may rest your foot by putting it in a walking cast, or have you use crutches to keep weight off completely. Losing weight can also help, since there will be less pressure on your feet.
We will also explore remedies that involve choosing different shoes or designing custom orthotics that will better support your arch. We use molds of your feet to fit them to your contours and add shaping to address your particular foot structure problems.
Finally, there are medications we can prescribe for the pain, and physical therapy exercises to tighten your muscles and tendons and make your foot structure stronger.
Denver Area Surgical Experts
Sometimes these methods don’t work—even for flat feet in kids. If your child’s arch is becoming rigid and painful, or if your own feet are always tired and achy, you may need surgery to correct your flexible flatfoot pain. We are known for our surgical expertise, so if all else fails, you know where to go. Call our offices in Wheat Ridge or Golden, CO at (303) 423-2520 and we will set an appointment at the location nearest you (including limited hours in Granby and Evergreen, CO). We will be glad to consult with you and help you find the answer to your pain.