Flat Feet: Signs, Symptoms, And Conservative Treatment Options

Flat feet, also known as pes planus, are often congenital, meaning that you were born with them, or acquired. The latter refers to flat feet that have developed over time, typically during adulthood. Adult acquired flat feet are often referred to as "fallen arches," and may be linked to diabetes, tendon disorders, obesity, and high blood pressure. Here are some of the primary signs and symptoms of pes planus and some conservative treatment options.

Signs And Symptoms

The primary sign of flat-footedness is the lack of an arch or a very minimal arch. Pain along the inner part of the foot and ankle may also be present, however, in certain people, pain is absent. A lump may also be noticed on the bottom of the foot. If you are a diabetic or have circulation problems as a result of peripheral neuropathy, you may not feel the lump.

If you are a diabetic with flat feet, see your primary care physician or podiatrist regularly for foot examinations. Foot and ankle inflammation may also develop in those with pes planus and some people may have difficulty standing for long periods of time. Numbness and tingling sensations in the feet are other symptoms and may be more common in those with existing bone spurs or peripheral neuropathy. 

Conservative Treatment Options

While surgery may be necessary to treat certain types of flat-footedness, conservative treatment options are often very effective. These treatment options include wearing custom-made shoe orthotics to help support your feet to relieve pain, distribute weight evenly, promote better body alignment, and improve your balance. While custom-made orthotics are often recommended by podiatrists, orthotics and insoles for your shoes are also available over-the-counter at most pharmacies.

Your physician may also recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with fallen arches or congenital pes planus. These medications include naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, and while other types of medications such as acetaminophen can help decrease pain, they do little for inflammation.

Foot exercises such as rolling a tennis ball under the arch area of your foot may help relieve pain and strengthen the structures of your feet. Heel stretches and gentle massage can also help promote circulation to help minimize discomfort and enhance range of motion.

If you have flat feet, see your doctor for a comprehensive foot examination. Once your doctor has evaluated your condition, they will recommend an effective treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.