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Flat Feet Treatments that Relieve Pain

by Patty Weasler, RN April 23, 2021 0 Comments

Flat feet is a common condition where the arch of the foot partially or completely touches the ground when you walk. Some people may not even realize they have flat feet and experience minimal or no foot pain because of it. For others, being flat-footed can lead to persistent pain. Luckily, effective flat feet treatments that help manage painful symptoms can be done from the comfort of your own home. Keep scrolling to learn all about them.

Can Flat Feet Be Corrected?

Flat feet, also known as pes planus, develops over time. The arch falls or collapses towards the ground causing pain in the midfoot. The fallen arch can also joint pain in the ankle, knee, hip, and lower back. Surgery is the only true way to correct flat feet, but it is rarely needed. Most people can use other treatment options to manage the overpronation and pain caused by flat feet to find relief.   

Ways to Reduce Pain from Flat Feet

Having flat feet often leads to developing other foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, Achilles tendonitis, and shin splints. Since flat feet aren’t something you can necessarily reverse, your best bet is to protect your feet and take proper care to prevent painful symptoms associated with fallen arches and these other foot conditions. Here are the best ways that you can:

Arch Strengthening Exercises

Foot exercises and stretches strengthen your lower legs, feet, and ankles. Some people with flat feet have a shortened Achilles tendon, which frequent stretching can help remedy. If you have significant pain or need guidance, reach out to your physical therapist for specific exercises for your situation.

Effective Flat Feet Exercises

Foot Massages

Arch pain and plantar fasciitis are a common complaints among those with flat feet. Routine foot massages can help to loosen ligaments in the foot that may become tight or inflamed. These are best done first thing in the morning, before stepping out of bed.

Tips, Tools & Techniques for Self-Massage

Avoiding Certain Activities

Some activities and conditions are bound to create foot problems. Knowing what to avoid can protect your feet from further dysfunction. Here are the things you should minimize or avoid if you have flat feet:

  • High impact exercises like tennis and basketball
  • Running on roads or other hard surfaces
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes
  • Manage conditions that cause stress on your feet: diabetes, obesity, and hypertension

Hot & Cold Therapy

Applying ice to the arch of your foot (also in conjunction for massage) can help to reduce swelling in ligaments and relieve pain. Try ending your day with 20-minute on and 20-minutes off. Heat may also help to reduce pain. Applying hot compresses can improve blood flow and loosen the tight tendons along the arch of your foot.

Alternating Hot & Cold Therapy

Using Arch Supports

When you have flat feet your arch has fallen and with every step, your foot will overpronate. Overpronation is when your ankle turns in when you’re walking. Arch supports correct both flat feet and overpronation. Here is a little bit about each type of support.

  • Arch Pads or Sleeves

    Arch sleeves and pads will give your arch a small amount of support and cushion with each step. The sleeve portion fits over the lower half of your foot and the pad is positioned in your midfoot. Arch support sleeves can be worn in almost any shoe and are not bulky. 

  • OTC Insoles

    Over-the-counter insoles are shoe inserts that you can buy at your local stores that support your foot and arch. They can come in several sizes and be used for all sorts of foot conditions. Insoles can be moved from shoe to shoe so you should only need one pair. If you have flat feet you’ll want to look for an insole that is labeled for overpronation or flat feet.

    How to Choose the Best Insoles

  • Custom Orthotics

    Custom orthotic devices are shoe inserts or other devices that are specially made for your feet by a podiatrist. You will have an evaluation visit with a cast of your foot made then a follow-up visit to see how the new orthotic is working for you. Custom orthotics can be expensive so you might want to try an over-the-counter version before you hand over the money for the upgraded custom orthotic.

Running Barefoot

Running barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes has gained popularity over the years. Many people believe that wearing cushioned shoes has caused arches and feet to become weak and running barefoot can strengthen your arches and correct flat feet. There is conflicting evidence on this theory. Talk to your podiatrist or doctor before you begin a new running regime to ensure it’s right for you.

Wearing an Ankle Brace

An ankle brace will not correct your flat feet but can help reduce the amount that your ankle turns in with each step. Joints in your lower body compensate for your fallen arches. So you can start having pain in your ankle, knee, and more. Wear an ankle brace to help the stability of your ankle joint and prevent injury to your ankle. 

Choosing the Best Ankle Brace

Pain Relievers

As your arch falls it can cause inflammation and pain in your foot. To minimize the pain and swelling try taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen or naproxen. They will help you continue with your daily activities but should be used in conjunction with other therapies as the medication will not stop the progression of your arch falling. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice regarding new medications to prevent any unintended side effects. 

When Doctors Consider Surgery

Surgery for flat feet is rarely needed. It is typically reserved for acute injuries that have torn or significantly stretched a tendon. In those cases, a surgeon will order diagnostic testing like x-rays or MRIs to get a better visualization of the injury. The actual surgery will vary from person to person based on their circumstances. However, for most people, recovery will be lengthy and require physical therapy.

Stop Pain from Flat Feet

There are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of developing or slowing down the progression of flat feet. If you have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or obesity it’s important to work with your doctor to minimize the effects of these conditions on your feet. Incorporate simple treatments like shoe inserts and medication to relieve pain. In some cases, surgery may be necessary but can be a great way to eliminate pain and develop a normal arch.

Sources:

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/adult-acquired-flatfoot/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/168608

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17005-flatfoot

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Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.



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