Challenges of 3 Different Types of Flat Feet

Challenges of 3 Different Types of Flat Feet

Picture a footprint in your mind. It probably has a curve along the inside edge where the arch doesn’t make contact with the ground. That arch plays a big role, distributing your weight, protecting your nerves and blood vessels, and more. 

What happens, then, if you’re missing that key component? If you’re living with flatfoot, you can encounter a wide range of issues, from foot pain and leg cramps to gait changes. 

To some extent, the symptoms you’ll encounter depend on the type of flat feet you have. Fortunately, at Greater Pittsburgh Foot & Ankle Center, William T. DeCarbo, DPM, FACFAS, and our team specialize in addressing three types of flatfoot. You can get the care you need at our office in Wexford, Pennsylvania. 

Let’s take a closer look at the different forms of flat feet and the issues that come with them. 

#1: Tendon and ligament issues with flexible flatfoot

If your foot looks like it has an arch when you’re sitting, but that arch disappears when you stand, you probably have this form of flatfoot. Usually, flexible flatfoot develops in childhood or adolescence. You might not notice the issues until later in life, though, because this condition worsens with age. 

Flexible flatfoot puts a lot of extra pressure on the ligaments and tendons that support your foot. They might get inflamed or even tear. 

Dr. DeCarbo can prescribe medication to alleviate any acute symptoms (e.g., anti-inflammatory medication for any swelling) while working with you to strengthen your tendons and ligaments. He may recommend physical therapy or at-home exercises, for example.  

#2: Lack of flexibility with rigid flatfoot

This rarer form of flatfoot usually develops during your teenage years. As its name suggests, rigid flatfoot interferes with your feet’s flexibility. You might have trouble moving them side to side or up and down. That rigidity can translate into foot pain, too. 

Dr. DeCarbo might recommend physical therapy, although that will look different than for a person with flexible flatfoot. Orthotics and medication can help to ease any discomfort your rigid flatfoot causes you. 

#3: Turning outward with adult-acquired flatfoot

A separate incident can cause your arch to drop later in life. If you tear the posterior tibial tendon that supports your arch, for example, the arch might collapse in adulthood.

While this can cause foot pain like any other form of flatfoot, adult-acquired flatfoot also comes with a somewhat unique symptom: It often causes your feet to turn outward. If you’ve noticed a change in your gait or people have told you that you’re walking differently, this could be the reason why.

Fortunately, Dr. DeCarbo can treat your flatfoot to correct any gait changes and help ease any pain it causes you. 

Clearly, different forms of flatfoot need targeted treatment. To find out which type affects you and get a personalized care plan, call our office or book your appointment online.