Flat Feet and High Arches Q&A
by Pamela Hoffman, DPM
What causes flat feet?
Sometimes also referred to as fallen arches, flat feet occur when the structures that normally support the curved arch portion of the bottom of the foot fail to provide that support, allowing the entire bottom portion of the foot to touch the floor when standing up. Flat feet are often present at birth, but they can also develop as a result of injury or from the daily pressures of standing and walking.
What are high arches?
High arch is a condition that occurs when the central curved portion on the bottom of the foot, called the arch, is more prominently curved than usual. High arches are often caused by bone or nerve disorders and are not as common as flat feet. People with high arches often have considerable pain in the central portion of their foot due to a lack of support, or in the heel and ball of the foot, since the pressure in these areas can be greater in people with high arches. Because of the unusual shape of the foot, it may be difficult to find shoes that fit comfortably.
How are flat feet and high arches treated?
That depends on the underlying cause of these conditions. Before any treatment is prescribed, Dr. Hoffman will use special techniques to evaluate the foot so she can offer the most appropriate and most effective treatment. Custom orthotics, shoe inserts made specifically for a person’s individual foot shape, can be very helpful in providing support for people with either flat feet or high arches so painful symptoms can be avoided. Sometimes these conditions can cause the connective band of tissue on the bottom of the foot, the plantar fascia, to become irritated and inflamed. In those instances, cortisol injections can help relieve pain and inflammation. Special braces can be used to stretch the plantar fascia gently, so it becomes more flexible.