Flat feet or collapsed arches is a common condition and has been shown to affect around 30% of the United States. Many individuals may be asymptomatic but the most common symptoms associated with flat feet are foot and ankle pain. Many people will seek out their favorite Rochester chiropractor to find out if there is anything that can be done about chronic foot pain. Let’s talk about flat feet, how they can cause foot, ankle, knee, hip, or even back pain, and what a chiropractor in Rochester can do to help.
What are flat feet?
The foot has three separate arches that keep the middle of the foot elevated off the ground. The purpose of the arch is to be a shock absorber for when you are walking, running, or standing. They also help with providing balance and stability during those activities. These arches develop through childhood as the muscles and tendons naturally strengthen and tighten.
Over time, these tendons and muscles that hold the arches up can weaken and loosen. This can happen from just normal wear and tear, injuries, or even from prolonged sitting. In some cases, the arches may never fully develop. The term flat feet refers to when the arches flatten enough so the entire bottom of the foot touches the ground.
There are several risk factors that increase the rate at which flat feet develop. Obesity and aging naturally weaken the tendons over time causing a drop in arch height. A Lisfranc injury, or any type of injury to the bones and ligaments of the midfoot, can cause an acceleration of arch loss leading to flat feet. There are also diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, that target ligaments and tendons in the extremities. If left untreated, these diseases could damage tendons in the foot enough for the arch drop to become painful.
What hurts when you have flat feet?
The most common issues associated with flat feet are foot and ankle pain. When the arch drops, added stresses are placed on different segments of the foot. These bones or ligaments are not designed for extra pressure and can become damaged, inflamed, and eventually painful. The plantar fascia, the long ligament on the bottom of the foot, can become chronically tense as it attempts to add support for the arch. One of the many causes of plantar fasciitis is this added stress from flat feet.
While foot or ankle pain is the most common issue, ultimately flat feet can cause a number of issues all the way up the leg and into the back. Many people with flat feet can experience swelling, stiffness, and even pain in the calf, knee, hip, and lower back. All of these joints are connected through a system called the kinetic chain.
Arch loss and the kinetic chain
A loss of arch height can be the root cause of a number of issues all the way up the body. This is due to a concept called the “kinetic chain”. Researchers have discovered that motion in the body isn’t just a cluster of joints that haphazardly bend to create movement. The kinetic chain principle shows that fluid movement is reliant on the motion of all joints working together and the movement of one joint affects the movement of another.
The foot is the base of the entire kinetic chain in the lower extremity. Flat feet affect ankle motion, which in turn affects the knee, then the hip, and lastly the spine. Each joint needs to adapt to the new forces and the added stress can produce pain. The location and amount of pain will vary from person to person.
During an appointment with your Rochester chiropractor, the doctor will perform a complete posture analysis. A drop in arches will be detected and specific tests will be performed to determine if they are the root cause of any pains being experienced by the patient. While chiropractic care is a great tool to help relieve those pains temporarily, a more permanent solution would be to support the feet with custom arch supports.
Our office offers custom orthotics through Foot Levelers. Each foot is individually scanned to see the degree of arch loss. These results get sent to Foot Levelers which delivers custom-made orthotics to your scans. These are designed to fully support your arch, provide pain relief, and fit comfortably in any shoe you currently use.
If you believe flat feet may be causing any pain in your foot, leg, or back, schedule an appointment with your chiropractor in Rochester. At Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, your Rochester chiropractor will do a comprehensive exam to determine the best course of action for your care. Through chiropractic care and custom orthotics, you can be pain-free and get back to enjoying the thing in life you love.