The normal human foot is equipped with two arches – one that runs from the heel to the toe, and another that runs perpendicular to the first. When these arches are lower than they should be, the person is considered to have “flat feet”. Often congenital, flat feet do not usually cause problems until late childhood when the person begins to experience pain in the knees, legs, and back during physical activity. Adults who develop flat feet later in life often do so as a result of tissue, ligament, and tendon breakdown in the foot. Normal flat feet are usually painless, but shoes may wear unevenly and be uncomfortable.
Flat feet are often associated with posture problems. Depending on their severity, a person with flat feet may experience pain, weakness, and tiredness in the legs and back, difficulty fitting into shoes, and problems running, jumping, or standing for long periods. These signs together with muscle cramps are tell-tale signs that a person with flat feet requires treatment.
Flat feet do not always require surgery. In fact, surgery is not recommended for children or adolescents with flat feet and is rarely a first course of action in adults suffering from any effects. Instead, non-invasive methods of treating flat feet are successful in alleviating any pain or weakness. Custom foot orthotics and other shoe modifications support the arches and reduce pain and weakness in the legs and back. Once the feet are in their proper position, strengthening exercises can treat postural problems as well as leg and back weakness. Dr. Thurm works closely with many area physical therapists to provide patients with the most comprehensive non-invasive treatment before surgery is considered. In advanced cases, braces or reconstructive foot surgery may be necessary if other less invasive methods fail.