By Daniel Wieking, MD
Q: I have been told I have “flat feet.” Should I be concerned?
A: Most adult feet form a curve between the heel and toes. This is called an arch, and it’s created by tendons and ligaments stretching across the foot and lower leg. When those tissues are weak or injured, the arch can begin to collapse, called a fallen arch or flat feet.
Some people are born with fallen arches. Others develop them over time due to damaged or inflamed tendons, broken bones, nerve problems, or health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Certain factors increase a person’s risk of fallen arches, including obesity, diabetes, aging, and pregnancy.
Many people with fallen arches experience no discomfort. However, others may notice symptoms such as pain on the bottom or inside of the foot, pain in the arch, swelling in the inside of the arch, or difficulty standing on their toes.
If you have any of these symptoms and fallen arches, see your doctor for help. He or she can diagnose the exact cause of your problem and offer treatment that might include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, orthotics, or in severe or persistent cases, surgery.