Could You Have Flexible Flatfoot?

July 28, 2015 Posted by Blue Ridge Foot and Ankle

Do you experience any of the following: aching or fatigue in your feet or legs, pain in your heel, ankle, arch, or along the outside of your foot, shin splints, low back, hip or knee pain? Do you find that you are prone to rolling your ankle? If so, you may have flexible flatfoot.

What is It?

At Blue Ridge Foot & Ankle Clinic, we treat many cases of flexible flatfoot every year. It is a complex disorder which can take several forms, all of which exhibit a partial or total collapse of the arch of the foot. Flexible flatfoot is one of the most common types. The name “flexible” refers to the fact that the foot is flat when you are standing on it but the arch returns when you are not bearing weight on your foot. It typically begins in childhood and continues progressing in severity into adulthood. Usually both feet are affected. As the deformity worsens, the tendons and ligaments of the arch can stretch or tear and become inflamed, causing pain and difficulty walking. You are more likely to develop bunions and hammertoes as well if you have flexible flatfoot.

How is Flexible Flatfoot Diagnosed and Treated?

Dr. Stewart M. Chang and Dr. Kevin P. Murray will do a complete examination of your foot and observe how it looks when you stand and sit. Usually digital x-rays will be ordered (which can be done in either our Fishersville or Charlottesville office) so the podiatrist can see how severe the disorder is. If it is determined that you have flexible flatfoot, your foot doctor may recommend any or all of the following:

  • Modify your activities—avoid long periods of walking and other activities that keep you on your feet
  • Relieve pain and inflammation– nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, can lessen discomfort
  • Lose weight—if you are overweight, losing weight will lessen the strain on your arches and may reduce your symptoms
  • Use orthotics—custom made orthotic devices to put in your shoes can give needed support to your arches
  • Do physical therapy—ultrasound and other physical therapy regimens may bring some relief

In more severe cases it may be necessary to use a walking cast or avoid weight bearing all together for a period of time. When pain is not relieved by other methods, your podiatrist may recommend surgery. If you think you may have flexible flatfoot, schedule an appointment online or by phone with one or our podiatrists.

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