What Are Fallen Arches?


"Fallen arches" is used to describe a flatfoot condition that develops during adulthood, not be confused with other causes of flatfoot that may develop during childhood or adolescence, such as “flexible fallen arches.

If you look at an adult foot, you'll usually notice an upward curve in the middle. This is called an arch. Tendons, tight bands that attach at the heel and foot bones, form the arch.

Fallen arches happen when main supporting tendon becomes weaken or injured, causing the arch to gradually become lower. With time, the shape of the foot changes and the foot becomes flat.

Symptoms of Fallen Arches

Many people have fallen arches and notice no problems and require no treatment. But others may experience the following symptoms:

  • Feet tire easily.
  • Painful or achy feet, especially in the areas of the arches and heels.
  • The inside bottom of your feet become swollen.
  • Foot movement, such as standing on your toes, is difficult.
  • Back and leg pain.

Diagnosis of Fallen Arches

A foot and ankle doctor may check your health history for evidence of illnesses or injuries that could be linked to fallen arches. He or she may look at the soles of your shoes for unusual wear patterns.

A foot and ankle doctor will observe your feet and legs as you stand and do simple movements as well as test the strength of muscles and tendons, such as the Achilles tendon or the posterior tibial tendon. X-rays or an MRI may be taken of your feet.

Treatment of Fallen Arches

Treatment for fallen arches depends on the severity and cause of the problem. If flat feet cause no pain or other difficulties, then treatment is probably not needed. In other cases, your foot and ankle doctor may suggest one or more of these treatments:

  • Rest and ice to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
  • Stretching exercises.
  • Pain relief medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Physical therapy.
  • Orthotic devices, shoe modifications, braces, or casts.
  • Injected medications to reduce inflammation, such as corticosteroids.

Surgical Treatment of Fallen Arches

If pain or foot damage is severe, your foot and ankle doctor may recommend surgery. He or she can recommend the best type of surgery for your fallen arches.

Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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