Foot & Ankle Surgery located in Fort Worth and Weatherford, TX

The Connection Between Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis

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The Connection Between Flat Feet and Plantar Fasciitis

Many feet problems can result from injury, or years of wear and tear, but some are the result of structural problems like flat feet. This condition can lead to pain and discomfort and raise the risk of problems like plantar fasciitis.

The simple act of walking is far from simple. To perform it, you need proper equilibrium, coordination in your legs, ankles, and feet, and must be able to stand up long enough to even try. Your feet literally bear the weight of your whole body, and the arch of your feet are especially important in maintaining that weight and keeping you stable. This arch is formed by bones in your feet called tarsals. Conditions that affect that area can make walking and many basic tasks on your feet more difficult.

Flat feet is a foot problem where your arches are lower than normal. While they may not cause any pain or discomfort, they can affect your posture and gait. They can also increase the risk of other problems, including plantar fasciitis. Both conditions can create problems for walking and balance, but there are options to manage them. 

If you live in the Fort Worth or Weatherford, Texas, area and you’re trying to cope with these or other foot problems, Drs. Gary Driver, Glen Beede, Gregory Jaryga, and their skilled medical staff at Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists can help.

Take a look at the connection between flat feet and plantar fasciitis by examining how both of them affect your feet, how one can lead to the other, and the available treatment options.

Defining flat feet and plantar fasciitis

A healthy foot needs to be flexible, have enough of an arch to provide spring when walking, and adequately distribute your body weight as you move. A person with flat feet lacks the necessary arch to do this, so when they walk they tend to roll their feet to the inner side (overpronation) or walk with their feet outward. There are two types of flat feet, flexible and rigid; the arch of your foot will disappear with the flexible type, while a rigid type will show no evidence of an arch in any position.

Your plantar fascia is a thick ligament that connects the front and back of your foot, and provides shock absorption to the arch of your feet when you walk. Excess pressure from badly fitting shoes, being overweight, tight Achilles tendons, or highly active lifestyles can lead to inflammation and pain in this area of your foot known as plantar fasciitis.

How one condition can affect the other

Because the issues with flat feet are structural, affecting the shape and utility of your feet, lacking the arch in your feet can exacerbate existing problems that lead to irritation and pain. This exposes the plantar ligaments to more wear and tear over time. Eventually it leads to pain when you take your first steps of the day, after sitting or standing for long periods, when going upstairs, or after intense physical activity.

Since both conditions take time to cause pain and other symptoms, you will not notice many of these issues until the plantar fascia becomes irritated.

Treatment options

Flat feet often do not require treatment, but physical therapy, orthotics, and pain relievers can help to mitigate symptoms should any arise. Maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce problems, but there are no methods to prevent flat feet. Common treatments to manage plantar fasciitis include rest, icing the feet, massaging and stretching, and the use of a walking boot, depending on the severity of the problem. 

Other ways to treat plantar fasciitis include corticosteroids, platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, Extracorporeal pulse activation technology (EPAT, or shockwave therapy), and surgery if other options to relieve symptoms fail. Surgical treatment are rare, but can be done via gastrocnemius recession or plantar fascial release.

Having flat feet doesn’t automatically mean that you will deal with problems like plantar fasciitis, but the risks are higher. If you have flat feet and you’re dealing with symptoms of other foot problems, make an appointment with Drs. Driver, Beede, Jaryga, and Trinity Foot & Ankle Specialists today to get the help you need.