Flat feet is the most common foot deformity known. In fact, sixty million Americans or 25% of the U.S. population have flat feet. Some of these people may experience problems that limit their activities, while others can run marathons or play in the NBA.
The plantar fascia is a thick, fibrous band which runs along the sole of the feet. It helps to support the foot arches and transmits forces through the foot as you move. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot arch pain. The most common problem to develop here is plantar fasciitis. If there is too much strain on the plantar fascia (e.g. from long periods on your feet, suddenly increasing activity levels or your foot position is altered), the plantar fascia becomes inflamed and swollen. It is often accompanied by a bone spur, excess growth of the bone which develops due to repeated tension on the area where the plantar fascia attaches to the bone. Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot arch pain. It is usually painful after activity or prolonged rest e.g. first thing in the morning. A less common problem with the plantar fascia which casues foot arch pain is plantar fibromatosis. This is when a small nodular growth develops on the plantar fascia, usually in the middle of the foot arch. It often causes pain when walking due to pressure through the lump.
Most flat feet do not cause pain or other problems. Children may have foot pain, ankle pain, or lower leg pain. They should be evaluated by a health care provider if this occurs. Symptoms in adults may include tired or achy feet after long periods of standing or playing sports.
In a person of any age, the doctor will ask about occupational and recreational activities, previous foot trauma or foot surgery and the type of shoes worn. The doctor will examine your shoes to check for signs of excessive wear. Worn shoes often provide valuable clues to gait problems and poor bone alignment. The doctor will ask you to walk barefoot to evaluate the arches of the feet, to check for out-toeing and to look for other signs of poor foot mechanics.
Non Surgical Treatment
How the pain in the bottom of your foot is treated will depend heavily on the cause of the pain. Diagnosing the pain while it?s in the early stages is important when determining the best treatment options. If the pain is mild to moderate, simple improvements in footwear can help reduce the symptoms. Most patients must use the RICE method for effective treatment. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This is a popular treatment used by athletes. It involves resting the foot, icing it for fifteen to twenty minute intervals, compressing the foot with a bandage, and elevating it at least twelve inches above the heart. Ant-inflammatory and pain medications are also sometimes used to treat bottom-of-foot pain. For more serious cases, steroid injections or foot surgery may help reduce pain and swelling and correct the underlying condition (if there is one.) If you suffer from a severe case of plantar fasciitis and non-surgical methods fail, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections to relieve the pain. If cortisone injections fail, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure that involves cutting and releasing the plantar fascia.
Surgery for flat feet is separated into three kinds: soft tissue procedures, bone cuts, and bone fusions. Depending on the severity of the flat foot, a person?s age, and whether or not the foot is stiff determines just how the foot can be fixed. In most cases a combination of procedures are performed. With flexible flat feet, surgery is geared at maintaining the motion of the foot and recreating the arch. Commonly this may involve tendon repairs along the inside of the foot to reinforce the main tendon that lifts the arch. When the bone collapse is significant, bone procedures are included to physically rebuild the arch, and realign the heel. The presence of bunions with flat feet is often contributing to the collapse and in most situations requires correction. With rigid flat feet, surgery is focused on restoring the shape of the foot through procedures that eliminate motion. In this case, motion does not exist pre-operatively, so realigning the foot is of utmost importance. The exception, are rigid flat feet due to tarsal coalition (fused segment of bone) in the back of the foot where freeing the blockage can restore function.
Foot and ankle injuries are common in sports, especially running, tennis and soccer. But sports enthusiasts can decrease the risk of injury by taking some precautions. Lightly stretch or better yet, do a slow jog for two to three minutes to warm up the muscles. Don't force the stretch with a "bouncing motion." The amount of time spent on the activity should be increased gradually over a period of weeks to build both muscle strength and mobility. Cross training by participating in different activities can help build the muscles. People whose feet pronate or who have low arches should choose shoes that provide support in both the front of the shoe and under the arch. The heel and heel counter (back of the shoe) should be very stable. Those with a stiffer foot or high arches should choose shoes with more cushion and a softer platform. Use sport-specific shoes. Cross training shoes are an overall good choice; however, it is best to use shoes designed for the sport.
Plantar Fasciitis stretches can be incorporated into a comprehensive treatment regime which may involve: ice, heel wedge support, taping, massage, muscle strengthening, orthotic inserts for shoes, topical anti inflammatory gel or oral medication and/or corticosteroid injections. If you suspect you may have Plantar Fasciitis seek accurate diagnosis and treatment from a health professional to ensure a correct diagnosis and reduce the likelihood of developing chronic foot pain. Treatment interventions may be provided by your Physical Therapist, Podiatrist and/or doctor.