Living with Flat Feet: Tips for Pain Management and Improved Mobility

Did you know that although they are not always an issue, flat feet can lead to discomfort, irregular walking patterns, and more stress on the ankles, legs, and feet? Learn more about how flat feet can lead to health complications and ways to manage your foot pain.

Complications of Flat Feet

Flat feet can lead to other foot problems over time if not properly supported. Here are some of the most common complications that can develop:

·      Bunions and Hammertoes: The altered mechanics of flat feet can cause pressure and rubbing in areas of the foot that don’t usually bear weight. This can lead to bunions, which are bony protrusions on the side of the foot, as well as hammertoes, where the toes become contracted and curled. Wearing proper orthotics and supportive footwear can help prevent bunions and hammertoes from developing or getting worse. If they do occur, options like bunion splints, toe spacers, and hammertoe braces may provide relief. In severe cases, surgery can remove the bunion or correct the toe alignment.

·      Postural Changes: The collapsed arch of flat feet can affect the alignment and posture of the rest of the body. The ankles, knees, hips, and lower back may rotate inwards to compensate. This can lead to strains, aches, and pain in those areas over time. Exercises to improve the arch strength as well as core and leg strengthening can help minimize the postural impact of flat feet. Wearing supportive shoes and orthotics can also help maintain proper posture and alignment.

·      Arthritis: The altered gait and strain on the foot joints caused by flat feet can result in arthritis over time. This wear-and-tear type of arthritis typically occurs in the ankles, feet, knees, and hips of those with fallen arches. Anti-inflammatory medication, shoe inserts, supportive footwear and weight management can help prevent or delay arthritis onset. Those with arthritis may also benefit from physical therapy, assistive devices, injections, and as a last resort, surgery.

Tips for Pain Management and Improved Mobility

If you have flat feet, there are several things you can do at home to help manage your symptoms. Proper rest, ice, footwear, weight management, and activity modification can all make an enormous difference in reducing foot pain and discomfort.

Rest and Ice

Take breaks during activities that aggravate your feet and aim to put your feet up and rest them periodically throughout the day. Applying ice wrapped in a towel to the arches for 10-15 minutes a few times per day can also help reduce inflammation and swelling.

Proper Footwear

Wearing supportive, well-cushioned shoes with arch support is one of the most important things you can do if you have flat feet. Avoid going barefoot, and swap fashion footwear for function. Look for shoes with a wide and deep toe box, motion control, and medial support. Replace shoes regularly as they lose their cushioning. You may also benefit from custom orthotics.

Weight Management

Excess weight puts more pressure on your feet and can exacerbate flat foot symptoms. Try to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Even losing 5-10 lbs. can make a noticeable difference in foot pain and mobility.

Activity Modification 

Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or biking are easier on flat feet than high-impact exercises. Avoid activities that involve a lot of jumping, running, and lateral movements. Cross-train to build foot strength while limiting activities that aggravate your feet. Listen to your body and ease up when you feel foot fatigue.

  • Rest your feet when they become painful. Reduce activities that aggravate your feet. Take breaks and avoid prolonged standing or walking.
  • Use compression wraps or bandages to provide stability and support. Compression also reduces swelling.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can alleviate pain and inflammation. Use the lowest effective dose for the shortest time necessary.
  • Lose weight if overweight or obese. Extra weight puts more pressure on the feet and can worsen pain. Losing weight helps reduce stress on the feet.
  • Wear supportive, well-cushioned shoes with orthotics or arch supports. Proper footwear decreases pain caused by flat feet.
  • Consider over-the-counter arch supports or custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist. They support fallen arches and distribute weight properly.
  • Try physical therapy exercises to stretch, strengthen and stabilize the feet and ankles. Building muscle strength can provide stability.
  • Get injections of corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain in severely flat feet. However, long-term use has risks.
  • In severe cases, discuss minimally invasive or surgical options with an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist. Surgeries like arthrodesis may relieve pain.

Following these tips can significantly improve your comfort and ability to stay active if you have flat feet. Take prevention measures, get proper orthotics and shoes, and make adjustments to give your feet the care and rest they need.

 

Doral Health & Wellness employs Podiatrists with extensive education and expertise. Trauma to the tendons, muscles, and bones of the foot is quite common. It’s not a good idea to put off seeing a Foot Doctor Brooklyn until you’re in a lot of pain. Our address is 1797 Pitkin Avenue, New York, NY 11212. To make an appointment, please call +1-347-384-5690 or send an email toinfo@podiatristsbrooklyn.com.