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Family Foot & Ankle

Why Arches Flatten

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Feet with Flat Arches

Eight years ago, at Arches National Park in Utah, guests at Devil’s Garden campground heard a thunderous boom despite clear skies. The culprit? Wall Arch, one of the park’s famous sandstone formations, cracked and collapsed nearby, dropping a massive segment of rock 34 feet to the ground.

The arches in your feet can collapse too, albeit usually not quite so dramatically. Although some people are born with flat feet, feet can also flatten over time for a variety of reasons.

The most common explanation is simply a lifetime of stress, weight, and pressure. As we get older, the ligaments, tendons, bones, and other structures that support the arch weaken and become more susceptible to weakening, stretching, or tearing. If you’re overweight, spend a lot of time on your feet, or have diabetes, you’re at increased risk as well.

Sometimes diagnosable medical conditions can be involved. The most common medical diagnosis related to adult-acquired flatfoot is posterior tibial tendon (PTT) syndrome. The PTT runs along the inside of your leg and foot, connecting the calf to bones in the midfoot, and is chiefly responsible for holding up your arch as you walk. Stretching, tearing, or swelling in this tendon—whether from acute injury or repetitive stress—will cause the arch to slowly collapse.

Other contributing conditions may include inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, which can break down cartilage and ligaments in the foot, or a diabetic foot collapse (also known as Charcot foot). Of course, traumatic injuries can also break bones and/or cause significant soft tissue tearing in the midfoot and arch.

A collapsed arch can mean pain, swelling, and quick tiring of feet. You may find it extremely difficult to engage in vigorous physical activities, and your mobility may be significantly compromised—you may find even standing or walking a challenge for more than few minutes at a time.

Fortunately, our office provides a wide variety of treatment options, from conservative accommodations like orthotics and bracing all the way up to reconstructive surgery. To find out how Family Foot & Ankle Center can help you get your life back, give us a call today at 888-689-3317.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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